Japan security tougher than ever: PM

October 15, 2012 - 3:47:33 am

YOKOSUKA, Japan: Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told his navy yesterday that Japan’s security environment was tougher than ever, underscoring tension with China over a territorial dispute and the threat of North Korea’s weapons programmes.

Sino-Japanese relations deteriorated sharply after Japan in September bought from private owners some of the East China Sea islets that both Tokyo and Beijing claim. That sparked violent anti-Japanese protests across China and badly hurt trade. “It is needless to say that the security environment surrounding Japan is getting tougher than ever,” Noda told about 8,000 servicemen and women, mostly from the navy, from aboard the destroyer Kurama. 

“We have a neighbour that launches missiles under the pretence of satellite launches. We have various developments concerning territory and sovereignty.”

Noda, supreme commander of Japan’s military known as the Self-Defence Forces (SDF), was speaking during a fleet review off Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo.

His remarks were relayed to ships gathered in the area—about 40 vessels, including the US cruiser Shiloh, were present for the review.    

Noda braved occasional bouts of drizzle to review destroyers, submarines, minesweepers and fuel supply vessels that passed in front of him.