Japan promotes China as bigger threat than nuclear-armed North Korea

Chinese soldiers practice marching in formation ahead of military parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in Beijing on Sept. 25, 2019.(Naohiko Hatta/Pool Photo via AP)
Updated 27 September 2019

Japan promotes China as bigger threat than nuclear-armed North Korea

  • Japan has raised defense spending by a tenth over the past seven years to counter military advances by Beijing and Pyongyang
  • To stay ahead of China’s modernizing military, Japan is buying US-made stealth fighters and other advanced weapons

TOKYO: China’s growing military might has replaced North Korean belligerence as the main security threat to Japan, Tokyo’s annual defense review indicated on Thursday, despite signs that Pyongyang could have nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.
The document’s security assessment on China comes after a section on Japan’s ally, the United States, the first time Beijing has achieved second place in the Defense White Paper and pushing North Korea into third position.
Russia, deemed by Japan as its primary threat during the Cold War, was in fourth place.
“It is a reflection of the fact that only United States and China can project their influence globally,” a Ministry of Defense official told a news briefing.
Japan has raised defense spending by a tenth over the past seven years to counter military advances by Beijing and Pyongyang, including defenses against North Korean missiles which may carry nuclear warheads, the paper said.
North Korea has conducted a series of short-range missile launches that Tokyo believes show Pyongyang is developing projectiles to evade its Aegis ballistic missile defenses.
To stay ahead of China’s modernizing military, Japan is buying US-made stealth fighters and other advanced weapons.
In its latest budget request, Japan’s military asked for 115.6 billion yen ($1.1 billion) to buy nine Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters, including six short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variants to operate from converted helicopter carriers.
The stealth jets, US-made interceptor missiles and other equipment are part of a proposed 1.2% rise in defense spending to a record 5.32 trillion yen in the year starting April 1.
By comparison, Chinese military spending is set to rise this year by 7.5% to about $177 billion from 2018, more than three times that of Japan. Beijing is developing weapons such as stealth fighters and aircraft carriers that are helping it expand the range and scope of military operations.
Once largely confined to operating close to the Chinese coast, Beijing now routinely sends its air and sea patrols near Japan’s western Okinawa islands and into the Western Pacific.
China has frequently rebuffed concerns about its military spending and intentions, including a ramped up presence in the disputed South China Sea, and says it only desires peaceful development.
The Defense White Paper said Chinese patrols in waters and skies near Japanese territory are “a national security concern.”
The paper downgraded fellow US ally, South Korea, which recently pulled out of an intelligence sharing pact with Japan amid a spat over their shared wartime history. The move could weaken efforts to contain North Korean threats, analysts said.
Other partners, including Australia, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India, feature more prominently in the defense paper.
“It’s a reflection of the level of cooperation we undertake with each partner,” the defense ministry official said.


UN adopts new voting procedure during COVID-19 pandemic

Updated 17 min 55 sec ago

UN adopts new voting procedure during COVID-19 pandemic

  • Ambassadors from the 193 U.N. member nations will cast secret ballots at a designated venue during spaced-out time slots
  • The Security Council has five permanent members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — and 10 elected members

UNITED NATIONS: The U.N. General Assembly adopted a new voting procedure Friday for the upcoming election of new members of the Security Council aimed at preventing a large gathering and ensuring social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of meeting in the horseshoe-shaped assembly chamber at U.N. headquarters overlooking New York’s East River, ambassadors from the 193 U.N. member nations will cast secret ballots at a designated venue during spaced-out time slots.
And they will be voting not only for five non-permanent members of the Security Council to serve two-year terms but for 18 new members of the 54-nation Economic and Social Council to serve three-year terms.
According to the new procedure, the president of the General Assembly will send a letter to all member states at least 10 working days before the first round of secret balloting for the two elections to inform them of the date, venue where ballots should be cast, and other relevant information.
The Security Council election had been scheduled for June 17, but it’s unclear whether that will remain the date.
The Security Council has five permanent members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — and 10 members elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms. Five countries are elected every year.
The council is the U.N.’s most powerful body and winning a seat is a pinnacle of achievement for many countries because it gives them a strong voice on issues of international peace and security ranging from conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Ukraine to the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and Iran, and attacks by extremist groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaida.
This year seven countries are vying for five seats, and there are two hotly contested races.
In the group of Western nation, Canada, Ireland and Norway are battling for two seats, and in Africa, Kenya and Djibouti are competing for one seat. India is running unopposed for the Asia-Pacific seat and Mexico is running unopposed for the seat for Latin America and the Caribbean.