Chinese media hit out at Japan security plan

JAPAN'S new national security plan has betrayed Tokyo's real aim of changing the post-war order to become a military power, said China's People's Daily, one of several official Chinese media outlets attacking the plan.

Describing Japan's strategy as "pushy" and "reeking of gunpowder", the paper said the world should be highly vigilant towards Japan's security policy.

"Any country with a strategy to develop normally would not tolerate Japan's blatant denial of history, reason and justice and its plan of challenging the postwar order to become a military power," said an opinion piece in the Communist Party paper under the pen name "Zhong Sheng", literally "China's Voice".

Other Chinese media commentaries also brought up Japan's aggression in World War II and questioned its motives in its depiction of China as a threat.

The official Xinhua news agency warned: "If Japan really hopes to return itself to the ranks of a 'normal country', it should face up to its aggression in history and cooperate with its Asian neighbours instead of angering them with rounds and rounds of unwise words and policies."

An opinion piece in the Beijing News daily also noted that Mr Abe's move "is no blessing to East Asia".

Chinese analysts also said that Japan's security plan has sparked concerns about growing Sino-Japan tensions and a higher risk of conflict in the region.

"Tensions between China and Japan will continue and feelings of animosity will deepen," Professor Zhou Yongsheng of the China Foreign Affairs University told The Straits Times.

He said Japan's move not only would lead to a possible arms race between China and Japan, but could also spur others in the region to boost their defences.

South Korea, for instance, may strengthen its defence capabilities in response to Japan. The same goes for Russia, he added.

Like the Chinese, they also have territorial disputes with Japan.

Conflict between China and Japan would keep escalating as a result of distrust, Peking University scholar Liang Yunxiang told Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao.

Tsinghua University international relations expert Liu Jiangyong said Tokyo was using its territorial spat with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu isles to justify its military spending.

Defence guidelines under the security plan had called for military spending to be raised over five years by 1.2 trillion yen (S$14.7 billion) compared to the previous plan in 2010.

"This will hurt Sino-Japan relations, but we can't say that Japan hopes to revive its militaristic past," he told The Straits Times.

Japan had also tried to soften the rhetoric in the security plan by noting that win-win relations should be developed with China in the long term, he added.

Indeed, Prof Zhou said the outlook for Sino-Japan ties may not be all that bleak, noting that Japan's economy might be affected by plans to roll out a consumption tax next April,

"If the economy is weak and Japan has to rely more on China, then Abe may have to change his policy," he added.

hoaili@sph.com.sg