- BEIJING (AFP) China on Tuesday warned Japan against attempting to become
a military power as it debates new US-Japan defense guidelines.
- "Japan should take concrete steps
to limit its defense to its own territory and adjacent waters and not
embark on the road of becoming a military power," Foreign Ministry
spokesman Sun Yuxi told a news conference.
- Referring to Japan's decision to join
U.S.-led research for a Theater Missile Defense (TMD) program in North
Asia, Sun also warned Japan against plans to include Taiwan, which Beijing
considers a renegade province.
- Japan, which was shocked last August
when North Korea fired a rocket over its territory, has signed up for
joint research with the United States on a defense system but has yet
to decide on building or using it.
- In Tokyo, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura
moved to reassure China earlier Tuesday, insisting that the research program
would not include other countries.
- "The system is not designed to attack
anyone, it is a purely defensive measure," Komura said.
- "If they criticized Japan's defense
system, it is hard for me to understand," he said, adding Japan was
ready to explain its stance on the TMD to alleviate China's concerns.
- "We have been explaining to their
side and we will continue to do so in order to secure transparency,"
- The missile defense program is only in
the development stage but in recent months plans have been floated to
include Taiwan in a TMD system for North Asia.
- Japan's Ambassador to the United States,
Kunihiko Saito, told journalists in Tokyo that the program, also known
in Japan as a ballistic missile defense (BMD), was a "purely defensive
- "Although China has expressed some
concern about BMD, I think we can convince China that there is nothing
to worry about," he told the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.
- Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi told reporters:
"Since it is purely a defensive measure, I would like to explain
(to the Chinese side) if I have an opportunity to do so." (c) 1999
Agence France Presse