Japan to boost coast guard near disputed islands
Iran Press TV
Thu Dec 22, 2016 8:27AM
Japan's government has announced plans to boost its coast guard fleet in the East China Sea in waters disputed by China.
Media reports on Thursday said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aimed to increase Japan's maritime presence in the area surrounding the uninhabited but disputed East China Sea islands of Senkaku, as they are known in Japan. They are referred to as the Diaoyu in China.
The Abe government set the coast guard's 2017 budget at a record high 210 billion yen (1.8 billion dollars).
Five surveillance ships and three research vessels and more than 200 law enforcement officers will be added to the coast guard under the new budget. Eight of the vessels will be new.
Media reported that Tokyo was planning to construct new submarines and boost it missile systems, as well.
"We will urgently begin strengthening our [military maritime] structure," Abe was quoted by media as saying.
The new coast guard budget will also cover the cost of putting video transmission devices on vessels dedicated to Senkaku patrols, while strengthening maritime surveillance and other measures, Abe said.
The Japanese government regards the islets as a part of its territory while China maintains that it has indisputable sovereignty over them.
Both countries routinely send patrol vessels and aircraft to the island group, raising concerns of an accidental collision or other risks around the island group, which is located midway between the two countries.
China is further involved in maritime territorial disputes with several countries in the South China Sea.
The United States has been siding with China's territorial rivals in all of the disputes, including regional ally, Japan.
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