Japan vows to defend islands after China’s restrictions

Imposition of new rules for entering what China calls its territories in the South China Sea has Japan seething, and the Defense Minister promising a readiness to defend its disputed islands also claimed by China.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera says Japan must defend its territories, despite China’s claims of sovereignty and the launch of new rules requiring registration of foreign fishing vessels entering the region.  Onodera says the new rules, coupled with the creation by China last fall of an Air Defense Identification Zone over the entire region, isn’t sitting well with the international community.  The United States has already spoken out against the new policies, which went into effect January 1st that require foreign fishing vessels to gain permission before entering the territorial waters.  The U.S. calls the new Chinese fishing rules “provocative and potentially dangerous.”

Japan on Sunday joined the United States in criticizing China’s new fishing restrictions in the South China Sea, saying the curbs, coupled with the launch last year of an air defense zone, has left the international community jittery.  Onodera spoke out this week after watching Japanese Self Defense Forces’ elite airborne units going through airborne drills aimed at refining skills necessary to defend or retake remote islands.

Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera made the comment after observing the Japanese Self-Defense Forces’ elite airborne brigade conducting airdrop drills designed to hone their skills to defend and retake remote islands.  He lashed out at China, saying “Setting something like this unilaterally as if you are treating your own territorial waters, and imposing certain restrictions on fishing boats is not something that is internationally tolerated.” He worried that “I’m afraid not only Japan but the international society as a whole has a concern that China is unilaterally threatening the existing international order.”

China’s resumed its incursions into Japanese territorial waters, briefly entering waters near the Senkaku Islands this past weekend.  Onodera takes a dim view of the Chinese actions, saying  “We can never overlook such repeated entries. In addition to diplomatic efforts, we will cooperate with Coast Guard and securely defend our territory and territorial waters around the Senkaku.”