China’s Ministry of Defense declared on Thursday that it will continue to do its regular military activities and patrols in waters near a Japanese island just days after Tokyo revealed that it would be putting up a new radar base in the area, along with deploying more Ground Self Defense Forces (SDF) to the island. Yonaguni Island is a mere 150 km from the Senkaku Islands, a string of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea that has been at the center of a territorial dispute between China and Japan.
“We are playing close attention to Japan’s relevant military trends,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said in a post on the ministry’s website. “China’s military will continue to carry out battle readiness patrols, military drills and other activities in the relevant area,” Yang added. The new base on Yonaguni is most likely Japan’s first military expansion into the area in more than 40 years. With the new radar base, Japan will be able to increase its monitoring capabilities deeper into mainland China.
The continuing modernization and ramping up of China’s navy, coupled with its assertive stance on territorial issues and claims in the East China and South China Seas, has sparked concern among the other countries in the region – particularly Japan. Relations between Tokyo and Beijing have been strained because of this long-standing dispute, apart from the historical issues that continue to be diplomatic dynamite between the two neighboring countries. Just recently, the visiting U.S. President Barack Obama assured Japan that Washington was still committed to its defense, and that the Senkakus were covered by the mutual defense treaty between the two allies.
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