A hotly contested body of water, nearly $5 trillion in trade passes through the South China Sea each year. China has claimed practically all of their South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters, which is incompatible with the standpoint of a number of other southeast Asian countries. Since the country has been actively strengthening its defense posture, particularly in the South China Sea, Japan fears it will try to assert control in the area and seeks to expand its reach.
"My sense is that this trend will continue into the future, where China will go beyond the island chain in the Pacific," said Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, Japan's top military commander.
"So if anything, I would believe that the situation will worsen."
Japan's rising concerns have resulted in recent discussions as to whether it should patrol the South China Sea, and implement anti-submarine activities. On Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed a bill via parliament's lower house that could let Japanese troops fight abroad, something that hasn't happened since World War II. People responded to the legislation with protests; thousands rushed on the streets chanting "No War, No Killing".
"But our position on this is that we consider it as a potential future issue to be considered depending on how things pan out," Kawano said.
Earlier, Kawano met General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to talk about fulfilling upgraded bilateral defense guidelines which were agreed upon this year, the Guardian reported.
The admiral added he had no doubt that the Japan Self Defense Forces (JSDF) would prove their value to the public.