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2013年4月26日 (金)

尖閣諸島 海も空も中国への警戒強めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun April 26, 2013
Air and marine patrols must increase vigilance to defend against China
尖閣諸島 海も空も中国への警戒強めよ(4月25日付・読売社説)

The need to reinforce patrol and monitoring activities on the water and in the air around the Senkaku Islands to respond to China's perilously provocative acts has grown.

Eight Chinese maritime surveillance ships entered the territorial waters off the Senkakus in Okinawa Prefecture on Tuesday and remained in the vicinity for about 12 hours.

Since the Japanese government purchased part of the Senkakus in September, Chinese government vessels have intruded into Japanese waters on 40 occasions, often using multiple ships for a total of about 130 intrusions. Tuesday's intrusion marked the largest simultaneous entry.

In its attempt to justify its actions, China claimed they were engaging in "law enforcement" against the "trespassing" of Japanese fishing vessels in the waters. Such an assertion is totally unacceptable.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe strongly cautioned China by saying, "The reasonable response is for us to respond physically [to intruding vessels], with a strong determination to prevent them from landing on any of the islands."

Possible countermeasures

Abe hinted at the possibility of taking such countermeasures as stationing public servants on the islands if Chinese vessels continue such intrusions into Japan's territorial waters.

The Chinese government last month unified, under the State Oceanic Administration, maritime surveillance duties, which were performed by various institutions, including the agriculture and public security ministries.

This time, together with the maritime surveillance ships that intruded into Japanese waters, two fishery surveillance ships sailed in the contiguous zone in the vicinity, indicating unified management of surveillance.

It is expected a large number of China's surveillance ships will intrude into the territorial waters again in the days ahead, staying there for longer periods than before.

The Japan Coast Guard needs to improve its capability to deal with such intrusive acts, while cooperating closely with the Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Air intrusions also occurring

The tense situation has not been limited to the sea.

The Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets to intercept Chinese aircraft intruding into Japan's airspace a record 306 times in fiscal 2012, almost double the number of the previous year. It also marked the first time such flights outpaced those against Russian aircraft.

The scrambles mostly targeted Chinese Air Force aircraft, including fighter jets, flying north of the Senkakus.

As long as the Chinese government maintains its hard-line stance on securing its purported territorial and maritime rights and interests, the Japanese government must make a strenuous effort to take necessary measures and prepare for the tense situation to last into the middle- or long-term.

The government will review the National Defense Program Guidelines at the end of this year. In the review, it must prioritize its efforts in reinforcing the "dynamic defense capability," which emphasizes force mobility, and in boosting the capabilities of the ships and aircraft in the Okinawa area, as well as increasing the number of SDF personnel there.

It is also necessary to introduce the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle earlier than planned.

On the other hand, Japan should avoid unnecessarily raising tensions with China. It is important to continue mapping out rules to prevent incidents like the one that occurred when a Chinese frigate locked its weapons-control radar on an MSDF vessel in January.

The defense authorities of both countries in June last year reached a basic accord on creating a maritime communication system. It is designed to have information hotlines between the countries' respective defense forces, with the two countries' vessels or aircraft communicating on a common radio frequency when approaching each other. However, the idea has not been implemented.

It is important, first of all, for both countries to put this accord into action, and build a trusting relationship between their respective defense forces.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 25, 2013)
(2013年4月25日01時45分  読売新聞)


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