Tokyo to Double Naval Buildup in E. China Sea

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force sailorsJapan Maritime Self-Defense Force sailors

Japan will reportedly step up its naval buildup and shift construction efforts to lighter military frigates to modernize its East China Sea force, as territorial tensions with China escalate over the disputed islands in the region.

Tokyo intends to double its warship construction plan and build two smaller 3,000-ton class patrol ships a year instead of one heavier 5,000-ton class destroyer that Tokyo produces annually, informed sources told Taiwan-based Central News Agency, RT reported.

Japan seeks to build eight such ships at a lower cost, as it plans to maximize the reach of the Japanese Navy and extend the patrol area of the eastern coast of East China Sea. The new ships will cost 40-50 billion yen ($353-$443 million) each, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters, which also reported on the issue.

Japan and China are in a long territorial dispute in the East China Sea. Both countries are claiming a group of uninhabited islands known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

The report of the new shipbuilding strategy surfaced less than two weeks after US Defense Secretary James Mattis reaffirmed American commitment to Japan's security.

Speaking in Tokyo on February 4, Mattis said US protection also extends over the disputed territory in the East China Sea.

And just last week, Donald Trump hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and reaffirmed American commitment to support Japanese territorial claims.

Beijing immediately issued a comment vowing to protect its sovereignty in the region.



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