Defense white paper urges China to follow int'l rules maritime rules

Japan is concerned about China's potentially dangerous maritime activities and Beijing should act according to international rules rather than by force, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday in its white paper for 2013.

The white paper also expressed concern over North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs, saying the country's ballistic missiles are potentially capable of reaching the U.S. mainland -- a sign that the missile program has entered a new stage.

The annual report is the first to be published under the government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and emphasizes key issues that could threaten Japanese sovereignty and security in view of an increasingly assertive China and defiant North Korea.

Abe is eager to revise the U.S.-drafted pacifist Constitution so Japan can exercise the right to collective self-defense, while trying to solidify the strength of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party in parliament through the upper house election two weeks away.

Citing a January incident in which Japan says a Chinese navy frigate locked weapons radar on a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer in the East China Sea, the white paper, approved by Abe's Cabinet on Tuesday, criticized Beijing for denying use of the radar and accused it of giving false explanations over the incident.

Tokyo and Beijing have been at odds with each other over the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the sea and tensions have heightened since the government purchased three of the five islands last September from their private Japanese owner.

China has since continued to send surveillance vessels into waters off the uninhibited islands, also claimed by China, putting Japanese authorities on alert.

The paper includes other topics such as cybersecurity, an area that Japan sees as necessary to improve to counter cyberattacks.

Abe's government is planning to compile defense guidelines to define the nation's longer-term defense policy by the end of the year, and the white paper provides an insight into the country's future defense posture.

The white paper touches on the possibility of enabling Japan to attack an enemy base as an effective "deterrence" against ballistic missile threats.

The paper says that in the security environment, the Japan-U.S. bilateral security alliance is essential and the deployment in Okinawa of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft will contribute to peace and stability in the region.

The tilt-rotor aircraft's patchy safety records sparked worries when the first 12 units arrived at a base in the southern prefecture last year. Further planes are expected to be deployed this summer.

Touching on Tokyo's decision in March to allow domestic companies to join production of parts for the U.S. F-35 stealth fighters, an exception to Japan's long-standing ban on weapons exports, the paper says such participation will help protect, maintain, and develop the defense industry, and benefit the U.S-Japan alliance.