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Japan to increase activities in South China Sea

Japan to increase activities in South China Sea

Japan will step up its activity in the contested South China Sea through joint training patrols with the United States and bilateral and multilateral exercises with regional navies, Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said on Thursday.

In the speech at the Washington think tank on her first visit to the U.S.as defense minister, Inada singled out China for its reclamation of land around maritime features in the water and expressed support for the U.S. Navy's freedom of navigation operations there.

In this context, she said she would side with the USA in its freedom of navigation operations, which "go a long way to upholding the rules-based worldwide maritime order".

Reuters reported Inada as saying that if the world turns a blind eye when a country tries to change the rule of law, and let "rule bending" to succeed, the "consequences could become global".

Asked whether she was suggesting the Philippines should be more active in the South China Sea, she said, "Well, the Philippines is a claimant state".

Japan has not yet announced that it will take part in a freedom of navigation operation in the disputed area, but the defense minister's statements suggest that Japan may be moving that direction.

However, Inada said she is open to constructive dialogue with China and will expedite negotiations on preventing collisions between their forces at sea and in the air.

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In March, the US and the Philippines announced plans for a permanent American military presence there and named five military bases that will support rotational deployments of USA forces near the contested South China Sea.

Inada justified the decision by saying Japan shared similar concerns with the U.S. about China's rise to power and aggressive pursuit of territorial claims.

Carter agreed and said the USA government will continue to cooperate with the Japanese government to achieve the goal.

The warning to Japan was issued shortly before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague discredited China's famous nine-dashed line and vast territorial claims to the South China Sea.

The two sides also committed to contributing to maintaining peace and stability in the East China Sea.

The South China Sea is the site of several overlapping territorial claims from China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Brunei.

During the talks at the Pentagon, Inada and Carter reaffirmed that Tokyo and Washington will never tolerate any attempt to undermine Japan's administration of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, according to the officials.

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