‘Japan must boost sea surveillance’

Japan™s defense minister says Tokyo should increase its surveillance activities to cover the Pacific Ocean along with the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea.

œSo far, we have been conducting routine surveillance activities in such areas as the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. When we think about our marine-related interests, we need to conduct surveillance over the Pacific Ocean as well,” Itsunori Onodera said in a speech on Friday.

The Japanese defense minister added that the ministry plans to consider introducing unmanned drones to strengthen its surveillance capabilities.

Japan has long been engaged in a dispute with China over the sovereignty of a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkakus in Japanese and as the Diaoyus in Chinese.

The islands are located near a crucial shipping lane and give the owner exclusive oil, mineral and fishing rights in the surrounding waters.

On July 24, Japan dispatched fighter jets to thwart a Chinese military aircraft that flew near Okinawa prefecture™s main island and the smaller Miyako Island in southern Japan.

In April, Japan™s Defense Ministry said it had sent fighter jets to the disputed areas – in response to flights by Chinese aircraft – 306 times during a year span ending on March 2013.

Tensions heightened between the two sides after Japan signed a deal on September 11, 2012, to buy three of the islands from their private Japanese owner in line with plans to nationalize the archipelago.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said Beijing is ready to engage in talks with Tokyo over the maritime row.

Wang further said that he believed there would be a day when œthe Japanese come back to the table of dialogue.”

MR/HSN

Copyright: Press TV