Japan begins military expansion first time for 40 years, risks angering China

Saturday, April 19, 2014
By Paul Martin

Voiceofrussia.com
19 April 2014

Japan began its first military expansion at the western end of its island chain in more than 40 years on Saturday, breaking ground on a radar station on a tropical island off Taiwan. The move risks angering China, locked in a dispute with Japan over nearby islands which they both claim.

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, who attended a ceremony on Yonaguni island to mark the start of construction, suggested the military presence could be enlarged to other islands in the seas southwest of Japan’s main islands.

“This is the first deployment since the US returned Okinawa (1972) and calls for us to be more on guard are growing,” Onodera said, Reuters reports. “I want to build an operation able to properly defend islands that are part of Japan’s territory.”

The military radar station on Yonaguni, part of a longstanding plan to improve defense and surveillance, gives Japan a lookout just 150 km (93 miles) from the Japanese-held islands claimed by China.

Building the base could extend Japanese monitoring to the Chinese mainland and track Chinese ships and aircraft circling the disputed crags, called the Senkaku by Japan and the Diaoyu by China.

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