China Warns Japan
Against Seeking Military Power
BEIJING (AFP) China on Tuesday warned Japan against attempting to become a military power as it debates new US-Japan defense guidelines.
"Japan should take concrete steps to limit its defense to its own territory and adjacent waters and not embark on the road of becoming a military power," Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi told a news conference.
Referring to Japan's decision to join U.S.-led research for a Theater Missile Defense (TMD) program in North Asia, Sun also warned Japan against plans to include Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.
Japan, which was shocked last August when North Korea fired a rocket over its territory, has signed up for joint research with the United States on a defense system but has yet to decide on building or using it.
In Tokyo, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura moved to reassure China earlier Tuesday, insisting that the research program would not include other countries.
"The system is not designed to attack anyone, it is a purely defensive measure," Komura said.
"If they criticized Japan's defense system, it is hard for me to understand," he said, adding Japan was ready to explain its stance on the TMD to alleviate China's concerns.
"We have been explaining to their side and we will continue to do so in order to secure transparency," he said.
The missile defense program is only in the development stage but in recent months plans have been floated to include Taiwan in a TMD system for North Asia.
Japan's Ambassador to the United States, Kunihiko Saito, told journalists in Tokyo that the program, also known in Japan as a ballistic missile defense (BMD), was a "purely defensive mechanism."
"Although China has expressed some concern about BMD, I think we can convince China that there is nothing to worry about," he told the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi told reporters: "Since it is purely a defensive measure, I would like to explain (to the Chinese side) if I have an opportunity to do so." (c) 1999 Agence France Presse