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Aggressive moves by China prompts Japan to expand


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China's dispatch of a naval flotilla that conducted exercises and passed between Japan's Okinawa and Miyakojima island has prompted Japan's Navy to take a greater range of naval activities further from its shores.


The 10 ships of the PLA Navy’s East Sea Fleet, based in Ningbo along the coast of Southern China, that took part in the exercises dispatched two helicopters that flew with in 90 meters of a Japanese destroyer during the April incident.



Japan called the helicopter buzzing a “dangerous act.”


According to Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun, a Chinese naval maneuver in March “deserves greater attention than the one in April in terms of impact on Japan's security," a military source said July 29.


Three weeks earlier six ships of the Chinese Navy's North Sea Fleet based in Qingdao, Shandong Province passed through waters between the Okinawa and Miyakojima islands, headed to the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines. The ships then operated in the South China Sea, which China has begun calling a “core interest" and an area the Beijing military recently said was sovereign Chinese waters, much to the concern of regional states.


According to Mainichi, a senior SDF officer said Japan's dispatch of large SDF transport vessels to participate fully in the humanitarian aid operation "Pacific Partnership" led by the U.S. early this year "was also meant as a response to China's moves."


Japan regards China’s aggressive naval buildup along shipping lanes from the Middle East to China’s east coast as a major worry.


Currently, China is relying on operational bases in Gwadar in Pakistan, Hambantota in Sri Lanka, Chittagong in Bangladesh, and the Coco Islands in the Bay of Bengal as part of what has been dubbed a “string of pearls” power projection strategy.


To counter the Chinese moves, Japan’s military expanded its activities and is conducting more open ocean deployments, including taking part in the Pacific Command’s large-scale exercise called RIMPAC, taking part in anti-piracy drills and other military exercises.


The participation is the first step in lifting an self-imposed ban on such activities.


"This was meant to enhance cooperation with other navies and improve the SDF's skills. We are taking steady steps to expand the scope of operations,” a Japanese defense official said.



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Taken in addition to China's stern warning to U.S. over joint exercises with S.Korea, this is starting to look like Zero is finally being tested.

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