China promises vigilance after Japan boosts military spending

Beijing, Dec 24 (IANS) China said it will closely monitor and be vigilant of Japan’s moves and true intentions, a day after its traditional foe announced an increase in its defence budget for the fifth consecutive year.

“Can Japan really draw lessons for history and pursue a path of peaceful development? Asian neighbors and the international community wait and see,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said during a press conference on Friday.

She added that “even in Japan lots of people have raised doubts and criticized” the increase in the budget, which rose to a record 5.13 trillion yen ($44 billion), a 1.4 per cent increase over last year, Efe news agency reported.

According to Japanese media, the increase is a response to repeated weapons’ tests by North Korea, but also to tensions with China over its dispute with Japan over the control of the Senkaku Islands.

Defence budget increases by Japan are normally criticized by China owing to historical disagreements stemming from Japanese invasion of China during the Second World War.

China usually increases its defence budget at an even faster rate (7.6 per cent in 2016) and comes second only to the United States in military spending (around $146 billion in the present financial year).