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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends the Upper house diplomacy and Defense committee session in Tokyo Thursday, May 29, 2014. China’s moves to assert its territorial claims in the South China Sea are giving fresh impetus to a Japanese push to play a bigger role in regional security, adding to the growing strains between the two Asian rivals. Japan said this week it is exploring whether it can accelerate a proposal to supply patrol boats for Vietnam, following a tense standoff at sea in May over a Chinese oil rig moved into waters that Vietnam also claims. In a similar deal, Japan agreed in December to lend 18.7 billion yen ($183 million) to the Philippines to purchase 10 Japanese-made boats. The vessels are a tangible sign of Abe’s effort to deepen ties with Southeast Asia in the face of China’s expanding maritime ambitions. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

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In this photo released by Japan's 5th Regional Coast Guard, clouds of black smoke billow from Shoko Maru, a 998-ton Japanese oil tanker, after it exploded off the southwest coast near Himeji port, western Japan, Thursday, May 29, 2014. One of the eight people aboard is missing and the other seven were injured, according to the coast guard. (AP Photo/Japan's 5th Regional Coast Guard)