Japan hypes the China's threat, especially in the East and South China Seas, in its 2017 defense white paper to show its willingness to cooperate with the U.S. to contain China, shift its domestic political crisis and make excuses for Japan's constant military expansion, Chinese experts said.
Japan's cabinet approved the 2017 defense white paper on Tuesday, which devotes 34 pages to China's maritime activities in the East and South China Seas, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The white paper pointed out that the number of aerial scrambles Japan made against Chinese aircraft hit a record high up to March 2017. "There is a possibility that their naval and air activities will pick up in the Sea of Japan from now on …We need to keep a close eye on the Chinese naval force's activities," the white paper said.
Japan is making "irresponsible remarks on China's national defense system" and mudding China's normal and justified maritime activities in the East and South China Seas as "attempts to change the status quo through coercion," Xinhua reported. Japan's move would jeopardize peace and stability in the region, Xinhua said.
"The white paper reveals Japan's maliciousness toward China. Japan's decision to hype China's threat, especially in the South China Sea, is aimed at creating trouble for China with the ongoing ASEAN meetings. Despite the easing of South China Sea disputes, Japan is trying to incite some countries to take a tough stance against China," Hu Lingyuan, a professor at the Japanese Research Center of Shanghai-based Fudan University, told the Global Times.
Japan wants to show that it can cooperate with the U.S. in the Asia-Pacific region to contain China, Hu said, adding that U.S. President Donald Trump seems to be carrying out the Obama administration's Asia strategy with frequent U.S. destroyer cruises to the South China Sea, which offers Japan an opportunity to further strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance.
"Knowing that the U.S. is more sensitive about China's rise, Japan also hopes the U.S. increases its presence in the South China Sea," Hu said.
Lu Hao, a research fellow at the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Japan has always been on guard on China and more content on China has been included in its defense white papers in recent years, which always give a negative evaluation, including the transparency of China's military construction and maritime activities.
"The defense white paper, which does not objectively reflect on Japan's security situation, has been used as a political tool to gain public support," Lu told the Global Times.
The white paper devotes a special chapter to the highly controversial security laws which were forcefully enacted and allow Japanese forces to fight abroad, claiming that the laws increased the deterrent capabilities of Japan's Self-Defense Forces, ignoring the fact that the majority of legal experts in the country consider the laws unconstitutional, Xinhua reported.