Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to put a brake on China’s maritime advances and step up pressure on North Korea to resolve the issue of abductions of Japanese nationals.
“There are challenges not only in the East China Sea but also in the South China Sea that are trying to alter the status quo through shows of force,” Abe told a session of the Upper House Budget Committee Oct. 23, apparently with an eye on China’s growing maritime presence. “The ocean should be open and the freedom to navigate must be protected.”
He was replying to a question posed by Eriko Yamatani, a member of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, about the backdrop of his foreign policy, called “proactive” pacifism.
Touching on the defense of Japan’s remote islands, Abe stressed the need to lay a legal foundation for reinforcing Japan’s troop deployment capabilities to prepare for an emergency.
He also said that the government intends to place greater emphasis on discussions that strengthen the defense posture to protect the nation’s 6,852 islands during the review of the National Defense Program Guidelines. The Cabinet is expected to approve the new guidelines by the end of the year.
His comments are believed to allude to the territorial row with China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
Turning to cyber-attacks, he said Japan will cope in such situations.
“If (cyber-attacks) are waged as part of an armed strike, (Japan) can respond to the situation as part of its self-defense,” he said.
Abe intends to incorporate the approach, also apparently with China in mind, in a review of the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, which will be completed by the end of 2014.
With regards to the abduction issue, Abe said Japan will not let the issue die.
“We will seek to settle the issue through dialogue centered on pressure,” he said. “We are determined to resolve the issue while I am in office.”
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