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2014年10月 8日 (水)

日中「海上連絡」 偶発的衝突の回避に不可欠だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan-China hotline indispensable to avert accidental military clashes
日中「海上連絡」 偶発的衝突の回避に不可欠だ

Efforts must be stepped up to establish a hotline between Japan and China to prevent accidental clashes.

Tokyo and Beijing will resume negotiations before the end of this year to establish a maritime liaison mechanism between the two countries’ defense authorities.

The agreement to resume talks came during the bilateral working official-level talks held in late September to discuss maritime issues. The mechanism is aimed at preventing accidental clashes between naval vessels and aircraft of the two countries in and over the East China Sea, including the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.

The mechanism will consist mainly of regular conferences between the defense authorities of the two countries, establishment of a hotline between their senior defense officials and direct radio communications between naval vessels and aircraft.

The Japanese and Chinese defense authorities reached a broad agreement in June 2012 on the establishment of the mechanism incorporating these plans. China, however, unilaterally discontinued talks in protest against Japan’s nationalization of the Senkakus in September that year.

A Chinese Navy vessel locked fire-control radar onto a ship of the Maritime Self-Defense Force in the East China Sea in January 2013. In May and June this year, Chinese fighter jets ventured abnormally closed to Self-Defense Forces planes.

If a multilayered liaison system is in place, it will help prevent an incident, whether accidental or not, from escalating into a military clash. The system will benefit both countries in light of crisis management.

Beneficial for both sides

China has agreed to comply with Japan’s repeated requests for resumption of the talks probably because it wants to show off its proactive stance toward easing tensions with Japan ahead of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit set for November in Beijing.

Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of staff of the MSDF, stood talking with a top Chinese Navy officer during an international conference in September with both agreeing on the need to deepen communications to avert a bilateral military clash.

By taking advantage of the planned resumption of bilateral defense talks, Tokyo and Beijing should work toward building confidence in each other and improving relations.

But it should not be overlooked that China has been intruding into Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkakus on a regular basis and trying to establish a fait accompli for changing the status quo by force.

Violation of Japanese territorial waters by Chinese government vessels have occurred at a pace of four to 10 vessels a month this year. Intrusions by Chinese fishing boats have increased sharply as the Japan Coast Guard issued warnings to 208 such vessels as of the end of September to leave the area, more than double the 88 last year.

Chinese military, government and fishing vessels are said to make concerted actions by cooperating with each other. The government must not loosen its warning and monitoring activities.

The JCG will establish a specialized surveillance system for the Senkakus in fiscal 2015, which will involve 12 large patrol ships. In its spending request for fiscal 2015, the JCG called for a budget to introduce four small and highly mobile patrol boats.

The MSDF, for its part, has plans to beef up its force, including one to introduce two new types of small destroyers with low construction costs in a few years.

Close cooperation among the JCG, MSDF and police could serve as a deterrent against accidental clashes.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 7, 2014)Speech


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