JAPAN has announced its intention to step up its activity in the disputed South China Sea region.
Japanese Defense Minister Tomoomi Inada said the country will conduct joint training patrols with the United States and bilateral and multilateral exercises with regional navies, Reuters reports.
Inada justified the decision by saying Japan shared similar concerns with the US about China’s rise to power and aggressive pursuit of territorial claims.
“In this context, I strongly support the US Navy’s freedom-of-navigation operations, which go a long way to upholding the rules-based international maritime order,” she said.
“Japan, for its part, will increase its engagement in the South China Sea through, for example, Maritime Self-Defense Force joint training cruises with the US Navy and bilateral and multilateral exercises with regional navies,” she said.
This is despite the fact that Japan has no territorial claims or interests of its own in the South China Sea.
It only serves to heighten tensions in the already-heated dispute, as China grapples with Vietnam, the Philippines and other allies including the United States over territorial claims.
H/t reader kevin a.
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