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Japan's bigger South China Sea presence aims to contain China in the region: expert

By Yuan Can (People's Daily Online)    10:28, January 13, 2016

Japanese P-3C anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft (File Photo)

Japan has decided to boost its presence in the South China Sea in 2016 with patrol aircraft making transits in key locations along those waters, sources have told The Yomiuri Shimbun.

According to the newspaper, the defense ministry and the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) have decided that Japanese P-3C patrol aircraft would fly over the South China Sea to coordinate with U.S. Navy South China Sea Freedom of Navigation Operation in order to contain China.

In response to Japan's latest movement, Zhang Junshe, a military expert, told the Global Times that Japan aims more at politics rather than military this time. "Japan wants to seek presence in the South China Sea and express their sincerity to the U.S.," said Zhang.

The Japanese newspaper said that the P-3C aircraft have long been involved in anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia and they return to Japan every three months.

In order to avoid airspace over the South China Sea, they usually refuel at bases farther away from the South China Sea, including Thailand and Singapore, the newspaper said.

The newspaper also marked locations as refueling places in their return trips including Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam, Palawan in the Philippines and Labuan in Malaysia.

According to the newspaper, since the P-3Cs have advanced monitoring capabilities, their presence at these new locations will mean that they will conduct multi-detection of facilities on islands within the South China Sea.

Fu Qiaoshao, an expert of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force, told Global Times that P-3Cs may inform the U.S. of information they get in the South China Sea and China should pay attention to the issue.

However, Zhang held the view that by doing so, Japan aims to restrict China with the U.S. "Japan does not aim to grasp situation about the South China Sea but to show its political stand and to express its support to some countries’ claims in the South China Sea, including the Philippines and Vietnam," said Zhang. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Yuan Can,Bianji)

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