Japanese authorities on Monday confirmed the procurement of two new destroyers, noting that the decision was made to tackle China’s increasing “maritime expansion.”
“The minister of finance approved the allocation of 105.5 billion yen for the procurement of two new destroyers under the fiscal 2018 draft budget, as we need more destroyers for surveillance purposes due to China’s maritime expansion and other factors,” said Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s minister of defense on Tuesday, who added that China has been using the most advanced destroyers for its surveillance activities.
According to an announcement released by Japan’s defense ministry on Monday, the new destroyers can perform anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare operations, as well as other tasks, including minesweeping, which until now has been implemented by minesweepers.
Onodera’s claims are supported by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who on the same day called on government to strengthen maritime security.
“We will advance efforts to secure large patrol vessels equipped with helicopters for response in the territorial waters around the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands, new jets for maritime surveillance, and large research vessels for maritime surveys,” Abe said.
According to Abe, the maritime security environment remains severe, so Japan cannot let its guard down for “even a moment.”
Finger pointing has being escalating between China and Japan regarding the Diaoyu Islands in recent years, especially after Japan illegally purchased three disputed islands in 2012. China has repeatedly reiterated its sovereignty over the Islands, urging Japan to face up to history and stop all provocations that harm China’s territorial sovereignty.