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Japan starts first military expansion in 40 years, risks angering China

Published on Apr 19, 2014 7:42 PM
 
Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, who attended a ceremony on Yonaguni Island to mark the start of construction, suggested the military presence could be enlarged to other islands in the seas south-west of Japan's main islands. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

YONAGUNI, Japan (Reuters) - Japan began its first military expansion at the western end of its island chain in more than 40 years on Saturday, breaking ground on a radar station on a tropical island off Taiwan.

The move risks angering China, locked in a dispute with Japan over nearby islands which they both claim.

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, who attended a ceremony on Yonaguni Island to mark the start of construction, suggested the military presence could be enlarged to other islands in the seas south-west of Japan's main islands. "This is the first deployment since the United States returned Okinawa (1972) and calls for us to be more on guard are growing," Mr Onodera told reporters. "I want to build an operation able to properly defend islands that are part of Japan's territory."

The military radar station on Yonaguni, part of a longstanding plan to improve defence and surveillance, gives Japan a lookout just 150km from the Japanese-held islands claimed by China.

 
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