Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday issued a fresh warning against China's growing maritime activities near Japanese-controlled islets, pledging to ensure necessary surveillance and intelligence activities for protecting the country's remote islands.
"We will demonstrate our intention not to allow a change in the status quo. We must conduct surveillance and intelligence activities for that purpose," Abe said in his address to the Ground Self-Defense Force troops in an inspection ceremony at Camp Asaka in and around Tokyo's Nerima Ward.
China has stepped up its maritime activities around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, claimed by Beijing as Diaoyu, after Tokyo bought several of the islands from their Japanese private owner.
Abe also reiterated his policy goal of enabling Japan to take on a greater security role, saying he will "proceed with studying" whether to change the interpretation of Japan's pacifist Constitution to allow the right to collective self-defense.
"I would like you all to discard the notion that the existence of defense forces itself can act as a deterrent," Abe said.
At the ceremony attended by some 4,000 GSDF personnel, a U.S. amphibious assault vehicle was displayed for the first time. In addition to four amphibious vehicles covered by the budget for fiscal 2013, Japan's Defense Ministry is considering buying two more vehicles with command functions in fiscal 2014 and more in fiscal 2015 and beyond, mainly for remote island defense.