DAVOS Jan 22 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
called on Wednesday for military restraint in Asia, vowing that
Japan would never again wage war, while taking a veiled swipe at
China's military buildup.
Sino-Japanese ties, long coloured by what Beijing considers
Tokyo's failure to atone for its brutal occupation of parts of
China before and during World War Two, have deteriorated in the
past two years over a territorial dispute, Abe's visit to a
shrine that critics say glorifies Japan's wartime past and a new
Chinese air-defence zone.
Asia's two biggest powers each accuse the other of
"We must ... restrain military expansion in Asia, which
could otherwise go unchecked," Abe told the annual Davos policy
forum. He is the first Japanese prime minister to give the
keynote speech at the gathering.
"The dividend of growth must not be wasted on military
expansion," he said. "We must use it to invest in innovation and
human capital, which will further boost growth in the region."
He added: "Japan has sworn an oath never again to wage a
war... We will continue to be wishing for the world to be at
Abe is pursuing a more assertive military and
national-security policy, such as moving towards approving the
use of force to help allies under attack and calling for debate
on revising Japan's pacifist post-war constitution.
His government has ended years of declines in defence
spending and plans modest increases in coming years. At the same
time, Tokyo has criticised China's decades of hefty rises in
military spending and implicitly accused Beijing of a lack of
transparency in its defence budgets.
"Military budgets should be made completely transparent and
there should be public disclosure in a form that can be
verified," Abe said, following his government's custom of not
naming China in such references.
He also called for resolving disputes through "dialogue and
the rule of law, and not through force and coercion", a formula
Japan has used to criticise China's actions including its abrupt
declaration in November of an "air defence identification zone"
overlapping the disputed East China Sea islets controlled by
"We must lay down rules that promote actions based on the
international law of the sea," he said. "Only then, I believe,
can we achieve growth and prosperity in Asia, where all of us
can realise our great potential."
China demands that all aircraft flying through the zone
identify themselves to Chinese authorities.
Japan has urged China to rescind the decision, and its
military and civilian aircraft have defied the requirements,
flying through the zone without notifying China. Japan's treaty
ally, the United States, refuses to recognise the zone and has
sent military aircraft through it.
Abe also reiterated his plans to revive growth in the
world's third-biggest economy, increase the participation of
women in society and review the portfolio of Japan's $1.2
trillion Government Pension Investment Fund.
(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Nick Macfie)