Citing China-Russia ties and Taiwan tensions, Japan, in a report issued on Friday, July 28, 2023, cautioned that the country faces its worst security threats since World War II.
The 510-page report, known as the 2023 defense white paper, was approved by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Cabinet.
The report comes seven months after Kishida’s government adopted new national security and defense strategies that called for doubling the defense budget to 43 trillion yen ($310 billion) by 2027.
According to the report, China, Russia and North Korea contribute to “the most severe and complex security environment since the end of World War II.”
The report states that China’s external stance and military activities have become a “serious concern for Japan and the international community and present an unprecedented and the greatest strategic challenge.”
Russia and China have also stepped up strategic ties, the defense white paper revealed, citing five joint bomber flights since 2019, and several joint navigations of Chinese and Russian warships that it said were “clearly intended for demonstration of force against Japan and of grave concern” to both Japan and the region.
Also, it was predicted in the report that China will possess 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035 and increase its military superiority over Taiwan, in what Japan views as a security threat, especially to its southwestern islands including Okinawa.
Noting his call for a rapid advancement of the People’s Liberation Army in his speech at the Communist Party congress in October, the report stated that Chinese President Xi Jinping, who in 2017 set a goal of building a “world-class military” by the mid-21st century, may move the target forward.
North Korea was not left out in the just issued defense paper. North Korea is rapidly progressing in its nuclear and missile development and poses “a graver, more imminent threat to Japan than ever before,” the report noted.
China Expresses Strong Dissatisfaction Toward Japan’s New Defense White Paper
China has issued criticism at the just issued Japanese report, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, saying that the Japanese defense paper “deliberately exaggerates the so-called China threat and creates regional tension.”
In a press briefing on Friday, Mao emphasized that China adheres to a path of peaceful development and pursues a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. “Its national defense development and military activities are reasonable,” she added.
“China conducts military cooperation such as joint cruising with relevant countries, which conforms to international law and practice.”Mao Ning
Defending China’s stance on Taiwan, Mao stated that the island is an inalienable part of China’s territory, saying, “the Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affair, and brooks no interference from any external forces.”
She iterated that the so-called “military balance” between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan island is a completely false proposition.
“Japan bears historical responsibilities to the Chinese people on the Taiwan question. It should speak and act with extra prudence, earnestly learn lessons from history,” Mao pronounced.
Moreover, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson averred that Japan’s own military buildup has drawn concern from its Asian neighbors and the international community.
“In recent years, Japan has been increasing its defense budget, revising its defense policy and seeking a breakthrough in military development, which has raised strong concerns about whether it still adheres to the path of peaceful development.
“China urges Japan to earnestly respect the security concerns of its neighboring countries, review and reflect on its record of aggressions, and stop exaggerating the security threats in its neighborhood, and finding excuses for its own military buildup.”Mao Ning
Mao noted that Japan should win the trust of its Asian neighboring countries and the international community with “concrete actions.”