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Japan to build military site near disputed islands

Monday, Apr 21, 2014 - 01:45

Apr.21 - Japan begins construction work on a military radar station near a string of islands at the centre of a territorial dispute with China. Sarah Toms reports.

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A ceremony to mark the beginning of construction work of a military radar station in Japan and the deployment of surveillance planes to Okinawa island. Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera praised the start of the project -- the country's first military expansion in more than 40 years. He also announced that about 120 personnel were due to be deployed to counter the increase of fighter jet scrambles. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JAPANESE DEFENCE MINISTER, ITSUNORI ONODERA, SAYING: "As there is the chance that these sort of actions could become more frequent in the future, that is why we have increased our deployments. More than being behind, while it's strange to speak of taking action in advance, we are doing this so that even if these sort of provocations increase we will be able to respond to them." In a separate ceremony the Defence Minister hinted that his country's military presence could be extended to other islands in the region. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JAPANESE DEFENCE MINISTER, ITSUNORI ONODERA, SAYING: "This is the first time this has happened since troops were deployed to Okinawa. I am beyond words in that I am able to take part in this historic event." But despite the festive atmosphere not everyone is celebrating. The move is also likely to anger Beijing as it may allow Japan to expand surveillance near the Chinese mainland. The new base is located on this seemingly uncontroversial spit of land. But the area is near a string of islands at the centre of a territorial dispute with China. Both countries claim sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea, which are known by the Japanese as Senkaku and the Chinese as Diaoyu.

Japan to build military site near disputed islands

Monday, Apr 21, 2014 - 01:45

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