Japan must enhance surveillance system to protect territory

Japan must enhance surveillance system to protect territory
PHOTO: AFP

China's infringements of Japanese sovereignty have been continuing. The government must build a thorough warning and surveillance system, taking into consideration that it will be a long-term struggle.

Friday marked the third anniversary of the nationalisation of the Senkaku Islands in Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture.

China, which claims sovereignty over the Senkakus, has six to nine of its government vessels intrude into Japanese territorial waters around the islands every month.

The number of intruding ships has declined, but their intrusions have become routine. China, building a 10,000-tonne-class large patrol boat, clearly intends to continue its saber-rattling activities.

Japan Coast Guard boats have been conducting patrols around the Senkakus and ordering Chinese vessels to exit from Japanese waters whenever they intrude.

It is also necessary to keep an eye on the moves of the Chinese military. China declared in November 2013 the establishment of an air defence identification zone in airspace including that over the Senkakus.

Chinese air and maritime forces have bolstered and modernized their military equipment and aim to establish naval and air supremacy in the East and South China seas.

It is right for Ishigaki Mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama to say, "Realistic threats have been mounting."

The central government and local governments concerned need to share a sense of urgency and work together strategically toward securing territorial integrity.

The JCG has so far managed to deal with Chinese government vessels by mobilising patrol boats from around the country, but within the current fiscal year it will also establish a system under which it will be able to operate 12 large patrol boats on a full-time basis.

It is necessary to establish as soon as possible a constant aerial monitoring system with the use of three jet planes.

It is essential for the JCG and the Self-Defence Forces to co-operate closely in preparing a system capable of ensuring defence seamlessly in anticipation of various scenarios.

Japan-US alliance vital

US President Barack Obama confirmed in spring last year that the Senkakus fall within the scope of the Japan-US Security Treaty. A firm Japan-US alliance can serve as the greatest deterrence against China.

If security-related bills pass through the Diet, it would expand greatly the co-operation of the SDF and the US military. They must augment joint drills and surveillance activity.

The maritime liaison mechanism must be put into operation as early as possible to prevent accidental clashes between the SDF and Chinese forces.

It is important for the fact that the Senkakus are inherent territories of Japan historically and by international law to be made more widely known and understood overseas.

China conducted an anti-Japan propaganda campaign on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II this year by linking the event to issues of historical perception.

Such moves have caused a drop in Japanese firms' investment in China and the number of Japanese tourists visiting the country.

Japan and China have become increasingly interdependent in economic terms. Even if there are conflicts on territorial claims and over issues of historical perception, we want the two countries to encourage practical co-operation and personnel exchange.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is exploring the possibility of holding talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping by taking advantage of such occasions as when he attends a UN General Assembly later this month and a Japan-China-South Korea summit likely to be scheduled for late October.

Abe and Xi must exchange opinions candidly from a comprehensive viewpoint of a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests.

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