Abe blasts Chinese defense spending

Updated: 2014-01-28 03:08

By ZHANG YUNBI (China Daily)

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has criticized China over what he called its rapid military expansion and its double-digit annual growth on defense spending.

He made the remarks on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. His comments were aired on Sunday.

When asked if "China wants to dominate Asia", Abe said Japan welcomes the economic rise of China, but "year after year, they (China) have been increasing their defense spending by 10 percent. They have done this for the past 20 years".

Abe's remarks come as Sino-Japanese tensions continue to increase after his Dec 26 visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.

The Japanese leader then accused Beijing of attempting to "change the status quo by force or coercion" in the East China Sea.

Yang Bojiang, an expert on Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Abe — a hard-line supporter of a Japanese military buildup and a proponent of revising the country's postwar pacifist Constitution — has hyped China's "military threat" to sway Washington and the Japanese public.

"Abe is actually flying the banner that ‘China is developing so fast and it will bully us, so everybody should straighten up and build a powerful Japan.' And the example he often used is the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands," Yang said.

The Sino-Japanese relationship has been stalled for about 18 months, and the impasse over China's Diaoyu Islands has shown no signs of resolution.

Abe has also publicly criticized China's military policies on the stage of Davos, and in a response, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said China's national defense policy has consistently focused "on the defensive part", and China's military transparency can be seen in its defense white papers.

Tokyo has accelerated its military buildup since Abe retook office, and fiscal year 2014 is the second year of Japan's growth in its annual defense budget, which shows a larger increase than the year before, said Zhou Yongsheng, a professor of Japanese studies at China Foreign Affairs University.

Abe wrapped up his visit to India on Monday morning, and the media have underscored that he has worked hard to lobby New Delhi to work with Tokyo to jointly contain China.

In his talks with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, Abe urged for enabling Japanese Marine Self-Defense Force to participate in a US-India military drill, and he has "achieved a considerable amount of fruit in building a cooperation relationship", Japan's Fuji Television said.