Thursday, December 22, 2005

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso told a press conference early today that China is beginning to pose a considerable threat, referring to its military buildup.

China is “a neighbor equipped with nuclear bombs and has expanded its military outlays for 12 years in a row,” Mr. Aso said. “It is beginning to be a considerable threat.”

The remarks appeared to signal a new approach in the way Tokyo looks at its giant neighbor.

Japan normally emphasizes accommodation, not criticism, in its comments on China.

Mr. Aso’s remarks come against a rapidly changing international posture that Japan appears to be projecting to the world.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi appears determined to pay repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which is devoted to Japanese military heroes, including those deemed by the international community as World War II war criminals.

This has drawn strong protests from China, as well as South Korea.

A robust campaign also is being waged by Japan’s leadership to amend the constitution, which contains a no-war clause intended to prevent the revival of Japanese militarism.

Meanwhile, China’s State Council — its super-Cabinet — today issued a white paper reiterating that the country intends to develop peacefully by relying on itself while not hurting other countries.

The State Council Information Office’s 30-page white paper, titled “China’s Peaceful Development Road,” follows criticism from abroad that the country’s military expansion poses a security threat, that its energy consumption could drain world resources and that its economic power could strain job markets overseas.

Having been a victim of foreign aggression for 100 years after the 1840-42 Opium War, China wants to prosper without further warfare, according to the white paper.

“China is now taking the road of peaceful development and will continue to do so when it gets stronger in the future,” the paper said.

Beijing has taken “practical steps to establish fraternal relations” with other countries, such as signing border treaties with 12 neighbors, joining regional cooperation efforts such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and helping arrange the six-nation talks on scrapping North Korea’s nuclear programs.

China’s future hinges on using domestic resources for development, the paper adds, noting that it feeds 22 percent of the world’s population with 10 percent of its land.

The paper says that since the 1990s, China has found 90 percent of its energy domestically.

“China is not only a big energy-consuming country, but also a big energy-producing one,” according to the paper.

• Staff reporter Gus Constantine contributed to this article.

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