Japan adopts new security guidelines amid Chinese assertiveness

TOKYO — The Japanese cabinet on Tuesday approved a new national security strategy, pledging to boost defence amid growing tensions with China.

The new policy will let Japan seek more “proactive” security roles for the country’s military overseas, and set new guidelines on arms exports, in a major policy shift.

It also emphasises strong security relations with formal ally the United States to counter growing concerns about China’s rising military influence in the region.

Japan's pacifist constitution limits the country's Self-Defence Force to responding to threats.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sought to lift some of the restrictions on the military, facing criticism from some for his perceived hawkishness, but finding approval from others who feel threatened by increasing regional tensions, notably with Beijing.

The new strategy will serve as the basis for the newly established National Security Council's decisions on foreign policy and defence.

The cabinet also adopted a plan to establish an amphibious unit capable of securing outlying islands. Japan's remote maritime territories have been the source of recent security concerns.

In particular, the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea are also claimed by China and Taiwan, under the names Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively.

Japan's new security policy would allow it to purchase surveillance drones, amphibious vehicles and the US military's Osprey aircraft to adopt a more reactive and effective defence posture, Tokyo said.

The policy describes Beijing's assertive activities in the East and South China Seas as regional challenges, and its claims as “incompatible with international law.”

In late November, China declared an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea, including the Senkakus. The zone has been flouted by Japanese, US and South Korea aircraft.

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