Monday, March 20, 2017

WORLD_ Japan Is Becoming Player in South China Sea Sovereignty Dispute


Japan Is Becoming Player in South China Sea Sovereignty Dispute


March 20, 2017 4:47 AM
Ralph Jennings

FILE - A helicopter lands on the Izumo, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force's (JMSDF) helicopter carrier, at JMSDF Yokosuka base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, Japan, Dec. 6, 2016.

TAIPEI — Japan is building up its influence in the South China Sea, the most widely contested body of water in Asia, to curb Chinese expansion and garner support for its broader military as well as economic interests.

In May, Japan will send its Izumo helicopter-carrying warship to the South China Sea for three months of port visits in Southeast Asia before directing it onward to the Indian Ocean for drills with the United States, according to the U.S. Naval Institute’s news website.

“You see this warship more as a multipurpose platform,” said Collin Koh, maritime security research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. “It can do humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. It can do anti-submarine warfare, so a few signals Japan wants to send via this deployment.”

'Causing trouble'

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson reacted Thursday to the word about the warship by urging that Tokyo “refrain from causing trouble in the region” and “respect related countries' efforts to maintain peace and stability,” according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Japan does not claim the South China Sea, a 3.5 million-square-kilometer body of water prized for fisheries and possible undersea fuel reserves.



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