At a press briefing yesterday morning, January 28, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, “Due to historical reasons, Japan’s neighboring countries pay great attention to its military developments,” in reference to Japan’s brutal behavior during World War II. Hong proceeded to say that they hope that Japan is pursuing a “path of peaceful development,” and that it will respect the views and concerns of the countries in the region, taking into consideration historical events.
This statement comes after Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Sunday, January 27, that the government is planning to add to its 225,000 military personnel by 287 starting April next year. The number is the biggest expansion of Japanese military in two decades. Meanwhile, both countries have been engaged in an escalating dispute regarding a group of uninhabited islands, which the Japanese call Senkaku and the Chinese refer to as Diaoyu. They are, however, trying to cool the tension, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a personal letter to Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
However, it is worth noting that the increase in military personnel could have more to do with the Algerian hostage crisis, which saw 10 Japanese nationals killed in an Algerian military operation. During the first Diet session held yesterday, at Abe’s policy speech, he made mention of the fact that the security situation of the country is getting more severe. In order to protect his country and his countrymen, his government has decided to strengthen Japan’s maritime surveillance capability, as well as its emergency response capacity.[via Reuters]