Japan’s Minister of Defense has warned that land reclamation projects in the South China Sea risked plunging the region into disorder and has urged nations, including China, to behave responsibly.
Gen Nakatani said “If we leave any unlawful situation unattended, order will soon turn to disorder, and peace and stability will collapse,”
“I hope and expect all the countries, including China, to behave as a responsible power,” he said.
Tensions have risen in the South China Sea in recent months over China’s construction of artificial islands as it tries to assert its claim to the potentially energy-rich waters around the Spratly archipelego.
The Spratlys are claimed by half a dozen countries including the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and China.
Mr Nakatani proposed what he dubbed the “Shangri-La Dialogue Initiative,” – three measures to bolster maritime and air safety in the region, including round-the-clock monitoring of airspace by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Establishing any system of round-the-clock safety patrols by 10-member ASEAN would require a level of integration not yet managed by the regional association.
Countries such as the Philippines would also need aircraft, boats and other equipment to join any patrols.
Japan, which lifted a ban on military exports a year ago, could potentially supply such gear.