World / Asia-Pacific

Noda vows to protect maritime interests

By Zhang Yunbi (China Daily) Updated: 2012-10-30 08:17

Experts say raising territorial issues will do little to benefit politicians

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has vowed to increase levels of maritime security and raised publicity of ongoing territorial issues affecting the country, despite growing pressure on various domestic issues at home.

Addressing the opening of an extra parliamentary session on Monday afternoon, Noda highlighted the necessity to get along well with its neighbors, in what local commentators suggested was an effort to ease recent deadlocked diplomatic efforts over ongoing territorial rows with countries including China.

Observers said the Noda cabinet would be under growing pressure both at home and abroad, following the speech, which called into question various aspects of Tokyo's stance on a series of ongoing territorial disputes with its neighbors.

Noda told lawmakers that Japan's security environment had become "more serious than ever" after various recent incidents involving the country's territorial and sovereign rights.

"With unflagging resolve, I will carry out the function of protecting the country's territorial lands and waters," said Noda.

He added that building trust with neighboring countries, including China, South Korea and Russia, served as a "basis" for regional peace and prosperity.

Wang Ping, a researcher on Japanese studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said recent incidents - including the resignation of the right-wing former governor of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara to form a new national political party, ahead of expected general elections in Japan - had shown that playing up territorial issues brings little benefit to Japanese politicians.

"Showing too much toughness makes no sense for the ruling party, and Noda's speech, while not adding any major fuel to the existing row, does not help his election hopes," Wang said.

In the past three months, various territorial disputes with China, South Korea and Russia have left the Noda cabinet in a diplomatic deadlock on three fronts.

Wang warned that despite his plan to rein in the territorial issues, Noda still appears to be doing little more than monitoring reaction from neighboring countries.

Japan's relations with China, for instance, have reached an unprecedented standoff since Tokyo in mid-September made an illegal "purchase" of the Diaoyu Islands, which have belonged to China for centuries.

Chinese maritime surveillance ships on Monday continued to patrol the waters off the islands.

Japan on Friday vowed to add around 17 billion yen ($213 million) to beef up its Coast Guard, as maritime confrontations continued over archipelagos in the East China Sea.

"With the Japanese cabinet's major reshuffle coming within months, both Beijing and Tokyo are unwilling to see the tension upgraded into a major conflict," said Wang Xinsheng, a professor of Japanese studies at Peking University.

However, he remained skeptical that both sides could achieve any major breakthrough in resolving the dispute before the dissolution of Japanese lower house.

Noda also made clear on Monday that he was in no rush to go to polls, fearing that would leave the risk of "political vacuum".

His ruling Democratic Party of Japan swept into power in 2009 and holds a slim majority in the powerful lower house of parliament. But the opposition Liberal Democratic Party's domination of the upper house has allowed it to block crucial budget deficit funding legislation.

The LDP is using the issue to press Noda into calling an early election, at a time when opinion polls show he is likely to lose any vote.

But during the Monday speech, the premier showed no sign of being cowed, as he called for the passing of a bill needed to narrow a 38.3 trillion yen deficit.

Liu Yedan, Reuters and AFP contributed to this story.

Trudeau visits Sina Weibo
May gets little gasp as EU extends deadline for sufficient progress in Brexit talks
Ethiopian FM urges strengthened Ethiopia-China ties
Yemen's ex-president Saleh, relatives killed by Houthis
Most Popular
Hot Topics