Tokyo, Jul 22 (EFE).- Japan warned Friday of a possible strengthening of military ties between Russia and China due to the war in Ukraine as Moscow deepens its rift with Western powers over the conflict.
“As a result of the current aggression, it is possible that Russia’s national power in the medium- to longterm may decline, and the military balance within the region and military cooperation with China may change,” Japan said in its annual defense report published Friday..
“In the vicinity of Japan, Russia has made moves to strengthen cooperation with China, such as through joint bomber flights and joint warship sails involving the Russian and Chinese militaries, as well as moves to portray such military cooperation as “strategic coordination,” added the report, which also expressed concern about such “trends” and said they “must continue to be closely watched in the future.”
The first defense white paper to be published under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration comes at a time of escalated tensions between Russia and the G7 powers, including Japan.
The war between Russia and Ukraine also appears to be nowhere near its end despite sanctions imposed on Moscow due to its attack on Kyiv.
China has refrained from condemning the Russian invasion and maintained its partnership with the Federation.
The two countries recently coordinated military maneuvers, including joint bomber flights over the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea and the Pacific in May.
The Japanese report criticized the Ukraine war and accused Moscow of “engaging in military actions that conflict with international law and order and is claiming the lives of innocent people.”
“The international community, including Japan, must not tolerate this, since tolerating Russia’s aggression may imply that unilateral changes to the status quo by force are acceptable in Asia and other regions,” Tokyo said in a veiled reference to China’s increased activity in the region.
The report said that China “continues to unilaterally change or attempt to change the status quo by coercion in the East China Sea and South China Sea.”
“Chinese military trends, combined with insufficient transparency about China’s defense policies and military affairs, have become a matter of grave concern to the region including Japan and the international community, and these trends have been intensifying in recent years,” it added.
For the second year in a row, the report referred to the need to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
“Regional tensions are mounting, with China showing its readiness to achieve reunification with Taiwan by force,” Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said at a press conference after the release of the report.
Beijing considers Taipei a rebel province that must be reunified by force if necessary.
In recent months, speculation has grown that China is watching the unfolding of the invasion of Ukraine with an eye to a possible conflict with the island in the future.
The white paper also referred to the “extremely high frequency” of North Korea’s missile launches this year, activities that it described as “grave and imminent threats” to Japan’s security, and did not rule out “further provocative actions” by the neighboring country.
“Given a situation in which the security environment around Japan is growing increasingly severe at an unprecedented pace, Japan needs to dramatically reinforce its defense capabilities,” the white paper said.
The country’s defense budget has for long hovered around 1 percent of the gross domestic product, “the lowest ratio of defense expenditures to GDP when compared to the G7 countries,” according to the report.
Kishda’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is looking to increase this spending over the next five years to 2 percent. EFE