Abe says Japan won't tolerate use of force to change regional status quo

Reuters

ASAKA, Japan, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abetold Japanese troops on Sunday that Japan would not tolerate theuse of force to change the region's status quo, comments likelyto rile Beijing which is locked in a long and bitter territorialdispute with Tokyo.

"Use of force for changing the status quo" is an expressionoften used by Japanese politicians and security experts toindirectly refer to what they see as China's aggressive maritimeexpansion in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

Abe's comment are the second in as many days in which he haseffectively said Japan is ready to be more assertive towardsChina.

Abe is seen as a hawkish nationalist who wishes to revise apost-war pacifist constitution drafted by the United States andstrengthen Japan's defence posture.

His comment, made at an annual troops review, come after theChinese Defence Ministry warned Japan not to underestimateChina's resolve to take whatever measures necessary to protectitself.

"Development of weapons of mass destruction and ballisticmissiles by North Korea. Provocation against our sovereignty.The security environment surrounding Japan is getting tougher,"Abe told the military review, which consisted of some 3,900troops, 240 vehicles and 50 aircraft.

"In order to show our firm national intention that changingthe status quo by force will not be tolerated, we need to carryout various activities such as surveillance and informationgathering."

Ties between Asia's two largest economies deterioratedsharply after Japan bought three of the disputed East China Seaislets, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, from aprivate owner in September 2012, sparking large protests andboycotts of Japanese goods across China.

Patrol ships from both countries have been shadowing eachother near the islets, raising fears that an accidentalcollision or other unintended incident could develop into alarger clash.

Abe said Japanese troops should discard the notion that allthey should do in peace time was train, calling on them tocontribute to peace and stability.

"It is your responsibility to resolutely defend the people'slives and property as well as our territory, waters andairspace, and to contribute to the world's peace and stability,"Abe said.

"I need you to discard such old notions that all you need todo in a peace time is training, and that defence forces can be adeterrent just by existing."

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