Both Tokyo and Beijing have scrambled fighter jets to the area in recent weeks in a further escalation of the row.
China's armed forces have been instructed to raise their fighting ability in 2013 and "should focus closely on the objective of being able to fight and win a battle," according to a directive from the Headquarters of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
On Monday, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported that Japan would deploy two more patrol ships to boost its "defense" of the Diaoyu Islands. And Japan conducted its first drill simulating the recapture of an island seized by enemy forces.
US warns Japan not to fire at Chinese flights near Diaoyus
US government has recently warned Japan to exercise restraint amid the roiling island spat with China. The Japan Self Defence Forces (JSDF)is not encouraged to fire light tracer or flare to Chinese planes approaching the Diaoyu Islands, said the warning, according to Japan News Network.
The report says US issued the warning based on concerns of possible armed conflict between the two countries if JSDF fires at Chinese patrol jets hovering over the Diaoyu Islands, which China believes a legal practice in defense of its maritime rights.
Japan to create six 1000-ton class vessels for Diaoyus patrol
The Japanese government on Tuesday approved a supplementary budget for the year of 2012, 8.7 billion yen of which will be used for construction of 6 advanced 1,000-ton class patrol vessels for Japan Coast Guard (JCG) to be dispatched to waters near Diaoyu Islands.
Launch of the vessels is scheduled for 2015. By then they will be assigned to the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha, Okinawa, which is in charge of the Diaoyu patrol.
The JCG said new vessels will be equipped with water pistols, an electro-optical panel that can trace ship movement and gears to identify ships at night. The Abe cabinet will also allocate money from the 2012 fiscal budget to build four more ships of the same class.
The 10 new patrol vessels, together with the existing two 3000-ton-class ships, will be commissioned by the JCG’s full-time team for Diaoyu Islands patrol in 2015. The team will have 600 members. With 500 personnel short, the coast guard is considering both new enlistment and a plan to extend the retirement age for officers.
The supplementary budget also includes a 5.5 billion yen fund for a “territorial waters garrison” for the purpose of purchasing new helicopters.
Chinese missile moved to SE coast to monitor American, Japanese warships
China’s Central TV (CCTV) reported that a missile brigade of the Second Artillery Corps conducted an assault drill in recent days, during which more than 10 warheads were automatically ignited and hit the same target simultaneously.
CCTV said the successful drill marks a key milestone that many state-of-the-art technologies have been transformed into concrete results.
A Russian military review said that the Second Artillery Corps of China is currently developing a new type of anti-radiation missile with multiple warheads, which, upon completion, would greatly enhance the PLA’s precision strike performance.
Japan in Diaoyu warning aimed at Chinese planes
Japan will send a signal shell as a warning if a Chinese plane enters the airspace around the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, it said yesterday.
If the Chinese plane ignores a warning by radio, Japan will then launch the signal shell as an "appropriate response based on international norms," the Asahi Shimbun reported Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera as telling a news briefing.
Japan sent a signal shell in 1987 when a Soviet Union bomber entered its airspace, according to the newspaper, without identifying the airspace.
Japan looks to US for security cooperation
A five-day air combat exercise by Japan's Self-Defense Forces and United States troops based in Japan has ended, as the two ally countries prepare for deliberations to revise their security cooperation treaty.
The drill was conducted over Pacific waters on Tuesday off the coast of Shikoku, the fourth-largest of Japan's islands, with four F-4 fighter jets and an unspecified number of personnel from JASDF and six FA-18 fighters and some 90 soldiers from the US, according to Japan's NHK.
Foreign affairs and defense officials from the two countries are scheduled to begin discussions on a revision to the guidelines for their defense cooperation on Thursday.
Amid China's maritime activities and military capabilities, the discussions will focus on how the revised guidelines should define the roles to be shared by Japan and the US in terms of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, according to Japan's Jiji Press.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly emphasized the need to exercise the right to collective self-defense in rebuilding the Japan-US alliance, and this topic will also be demonstrated in the discussions on Thursday, according to the Kyodo News Agency.
The Diaoyu Islands dispute and Pyongyang's rocket launch offer Japan excuses to enhance its collective self-defense, which allows Japan to help defend US troops when necessary, said Wang Ping, a researcher on Japanese studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Exercising the right to collective self-defense with the US means the two countries will have an equal military position, but the US is not eager to see this happen, Wang said.
Faced with pressure over a shrinking military budget, the US expects its allies in the Asia-Pacific to contribute more to its pivot to the region, which is why Washington wants to discuss the security cooperation treaty with Japan, said Pang Zhongying, a professor on international affairs with Renmin University of China.
But the US knows that Japan's right to exercise collective self-defense is a double-edged sword, and may also pose a threat to Washington's interests in the region, so the US will also take precautions against Japan, he said.
Japan has beefed up measures to strengthen the US-Japan military alliance.
Japan's Self-Defense Forces launched a military drill on island defense at a training ground in the city of Narashino, Chiba prefecture, on Sunday.
The war game was played under the scenario that a Japanese islet was captured by enemy forces, and airborne forces retook the island with the help of maritime and air forces.
Meanwhile, China is beefing up maritime and air patrols of the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea as part of its law enforcement and jurisdiction practices.
Mapping of islands
In a separate development, China is to survey the Diaoyu Islands as part of a mapping program of its territorial islands and reefs, according to Xinhua News Agency.
The Diaoyu Islands and the nearby waters are China's inherent territory, and the purpose of surveying the islands is to safeguard China's maritime rights and interests, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at on Tuesday.
The first stage of the island surveying and mapping was launched in 2009 and has finished the monitoring of islands located within 100 km of the coastline, according to a document issued at a news conference by the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation.
The second stage will cover islands including the Diaoyu Islands, the document said.
It added that this program is part of the country's efforts to safeguard its maritime rights and interests.
By the end of last year, China had completed the identifying and precise positioning of about 6,400 islands and more than 4,900 island maps of three scales.
Zhang Huifeng, an administration official, was cited as saying: "There are some difficulties in landing on some islands to survey, and in surveying and mapping the surrounding sea area of the islands, because some countries infringed and occupied these islands of China."
The maritime dispute, which has simmered off and on for years, intensified last year when the Japanese government "bought" the islands from a so-called private owner, triggering anger and demonstrations in China.