Japan Criticizes China’s Maritime Action as Abe Seeks Summit

Japan renewed its criticism of China’s “assertive” maritime activities in a report published days after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he wanted a summit meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Japan is strongly concerned about China’s actions at sea and the “lack of transparency in the military and security,” the Ministry of Defense said today in an annual white paper. Japan must continue to pay close attention to the issue, the ministry said.

Chinese and Japanese ships have been tailing one another in waters around disputed East China Sea islands since Japan bought three of them from a private owner in 2012. While the report shows Chinese incursions into what Japan regards as its territorial waters have fallen this year, the row over the islets has contributed to preventing a summit taking place.

The report also reflects Abe’s switch to a more active defense policy and comes after the cabinet on July 1 passed a resolution to reinterpret Japan’s pacifist constitution to allow the military to defend other nations.

The cover of the white paper -- the second to be compiled under Abe’s watch -- features a U.S. Osprey tilt rotor aircraft hovering above a Japanese helicopter carrier as an illustration of how Japan can make “active contributions to peace.”

Defense Exports

Abe’s loosening of restrictions on defense exports is reflected in a section showcasing such Japanese technology as submarine parts and cockpit canopies. A chapter on Japan’s dispatches of fighter jets to investigate Chinese planes flying close to its airspace is illustrated with a photograph of two air-defense crew members running toward an aircraft.

Abe reiterated at a press conference in Sao Paolo on Aug. 2 that it would be good to hold a summit with China at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing in November. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said talks on a summit should be held at all levels and urged China to take part in discussions without pre-conditions, when asked whether he would meet his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at a gathering of foreign ministers in Myanmar at the weekend, Kyodo news reported.

Abe won’t visit Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine on August 15, the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, Kyodo reported today, citing several unidentified people. The prime minister’s visit in December to the shrine that honors war-dead, including Class-A war criminals, was condemned by China.

Japan last week sparked new criticism from its neighbor when it gave names to five islets that form part of the group known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.

Korean Protest

Incursions by Chinese vessels into waters around the islands have fallen, according to the report, with two-to-three a month since the beginning of the year, compared with eight in December 2012 when Abe took office.

South Korea protested over a section of the white paper that describes a separate group of islets disputed by the two countries as Japanese territory, calling it a provocation that undermines efforts to improve their bilateral ties.

“The Japanese government should be well aware that if it continues laying unjustifiable claims to Dokdo, it will be a long time before the two countries will see improvement in their relations,” the foreign ministry in Seoul said in a statement on its website, calling the islets known as Takeshima in Japanese “an integral part” of South Korean territory.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.