S. Korea urges Japan to maintain stability in Northeast Asia

South Korea on Friday urged Japan to work on stability in Northeast Asia in response to an interim report by

Japan's Defense Ministry which said Japan should beef up its defensive capabilities.

"It's our hope Japan works to maintain stability in this region...and works toward developing relations with South Korea in a stable way," South Korea's Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai Young said at a news briefing.

According to the Defense Ministry interim report, Japan should strengthen its defensive capabilities given China's growing assertiveness in the East China Sea and North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, and consider acquiring the ability to attack enemy bases.

In what could be a major shift in defense policy, the report also said Japan should strengthen the marine functions of the Self-Defense Forces and improve surveillance over remote islands, apparently including the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea where its ownership is being challenged by China.

The report placed priority on the U.S.-Japan security alliance as Tokyo and Washington are set to review their defense cooperation guidelines, but said the country should take on more responsibilities to respond to the changing security environment around it.