Japan could be 'main player' in Asia conflict: Minister
TOKYO (AFP) - Japan could be a key participant if conflict breaks out in Asia, the defence minister said on Monday, warning that China is seeking to exploit difficulties between allies.
The comments by Mr Itsuno Onodera, who said Japan needs new equipment and must reconfigure its defence, come as Tokyo is embroiled in an ongoing spat with Beijing over disputed territory that has sparked warnings of a possible armed skirmish.
"The crisis that Japan faces now may lead to situations in which the country may have to be involved as a main player," Mr Onodera told a symposium in the capital.
"Before, it was expected that Japan would only be part of a group (involved in any confrontation)," he said, in apparent reference to the US-Japan security alliance.