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    Japanese navy officers stand on the deck of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's vessel docked at Thilawa port, Myanmar, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013

    Japanese May Patrol South China Sea

    © AP Photo / Gemunu Amarasinghe
    Asia & Pacific
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    China’s unwavering stance on various territorial disputes and the number of artificial islands it is constructing have led Japan to consider patrolling the South China Sea and conducting surveillance there, according to Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, Japan's military chief.

    US and Japan have repeatedly condemned these South China Sea turf battles, which to a great extent are caused by China's obstinacy regarding its sovereignty claims, although it assures it has no ill intentions.

    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.    

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    patrol missions, military, China, South China Sea, Japan
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