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APAC

Japan lawmakers call for military drills with U.S. around disputed islets

FILE PHOTO: A Chinese fisheries surveillance vessel (rear) cruises next to a Japan Coast Guard patrol ship in the waters about 24 km (14.9 miles) north-northwest of Kuba island, one of the disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku isles in Japan, Diaoyu islands in China, in this handout photo by Japan Coast Guard's 11th Regional Coast Guard headquarters September 18, 2012. Mandatory credit. REUTERS/11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters-Japan Coast Guard/Handout

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese lawmakers on Thursday compiled a draft proposal urging the government to hold joint military drills with the United States around a group of East China Sea islands administered by Japan but claimed by China to fortify Tokyo’s control over them.

Japan’s ties with China have been strained by the long-running row over the uninhabited East China Sea islets, called the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

“The Defence Ministry should conduct joint drills with the United States around the Nansei Islands chain including Kuba island and Taisho island,” said the proposal, drafted by a group of ruling party lawmakers.

Kuba and Taisho are part of what Japan calls the Senkaku islands.

Japan’s latest defence white paper, published in July, said China’s maritime and air forces have been stepping up their activities around the islands, creating a situation that warrants deep concerns.

The proposal, which also calls for allocating more money, ships and personnel to the coastguard to bolster maritime law enforcement around the islands, will be submitted to the government next week.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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