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Japan says China has become 'serious problem' to security

Channel News Asia | April 16 2005

TOKYO : Japan said Friday that China had become a "serious problem" to its security through its energy development in disputed waters, although it stressed that the Asian giants should seek stable relations.

Japan's annual book on diplomacy, which coincided with a sharp rise in tensions between the countries, cited China's energy development in the East China Sea and last year's incursion of a Chinese nuclear submarine in the area.

"A serious problem impeding Japan's security and sovereign rights emerged" from China's actions, the foreign ministry book said.

But the report also said the both countries should mend fences.

"Stable Japan-China relations are indispensable for the peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region," said the book, which is released each year to look back on developments in Japan's foreign relations.

Last November, Japan protested to China after the submarine spent about two hours near the contested gas field before zigzagging toward Chinese waters in a two-day chase by Japanese destroyers and a patrol plane.

Japan on Wednesday ended decades of hesitation and said it would let its companies drill for oil and gas in the disputed area. Beijing, which began drilling in 2003, called the move a "provocation".

China last weekend saw some of its biggest demonstrations in years, as protesters pelted the Japanese embassy with bottles and cans and accused Japan of not atoning for its bloody 1931-1945 occupation of the country.

China's anti-Japanese websites and Internet forums have called for a second wave of rallies against Japan this weekend.

The diplomacy report came two days ahead of Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura's trip to Beijing, where he is due to tell the Chinese government to halt alleged official approval of the anti-Japanese demonstrations.