SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Japan will not use its growing military strength to threaten other countries, its defense minister said on Saturday, while affirming its aim to prioritize diplomatic efforts and dialogue to avert misunderstandings.
“We do not seek rivalry or conflict,” Yasukazu Hamada said in a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a security conference in Singapore with 600 delegates from 49 countries.
Japanese aggression before and during World War Two is still a cause of tension in relations with some countries, especially South Korea and China.
The United States in 1947 imposed a constitution on Japan that renounces war but in recent years governments have been boosting defense capabilities and in December, Japan unveiled its biggest military build-up since the war.
Hamada said Japan did not aim to establish military power to pose a threat to others.
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The defense ministry would pursue diplomatic efforts first, he said.
“As a nation that generally desires peace, we aim to enhance our own and original deterrent capabilities and promote the resolution to differences in interest and opinions through dialogue,” he said.
Under a five-year defense, which will double defense spending, Japan will acquire longer-range missiles that it hopes will deter China from resorting to force in East Asia.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government worries that Russia’s attack on Ukraine could embolden China to attack neighboring Taiwan.
(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi and Tim Kelly; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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