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Japan Firms Stance on Disputed Islands

By TOKO SEXIGUCHI AND GEORGE NISHIYAMA
Wall Street Journal
March 1, 2013

TOKYO – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned his focus to defense and diplomacy, barely touching on the economic stimulus policies that have dominated the early weeks of his term, during a second major policy speech to parliament.

Mr. Abe opened his address Thursday calling for “a strong Japan,” and he continued with a muscular vow to protect Japan’s territorial claims in a stand off with China.

Ratcheting up his rhetoric on an issue that has chilled ties between Tokyo and Beijing over the past few months, Mr. Abe compared the East China Sea dispute to the 1982 war between the UK and Argentina over the Falkland Islands chain off the coast of
South America, literally thousands of miles from London, England’s homeland.

“Looking back at the Falkland Islands conflict, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said the following: The
rule of international law must triumph over exertion of force” Mr. Abe told fellow lawmakers.

Mrs. Thatcher famously rallied her nation to support the 74 day armed conflict in defense of the small islands , a fight that drew skepticism at the time from British leaders — and some British allies who felt the territory wasn’t worth defending after Argentina his seized control.

While the dispute between Japan and China hasn’t reached the point of armed conflict, the two militaries have each started to
mobilize near the islands controlled by Japan but also claimed by China. In one incident, Japan accused the Chinese navy of
locking weapon radar into a Japanese warship, which Mr. Abe called an “escalating dangerous act” China denies doing so.

Mr. Abe rose to power last year in part by claiming in an election campaign that many Japanese—including the leaders of the previous government weren’t sufficiently committed to defending the uninhabited islands. In Thursday’s speech, he again cautioned against what he considers a dangerous complacency among the Japanese.

“I am determined to…protect our sovereignty and our people’s lives,” he said, drawing cheers from the chamber. The threats to our national security are not ‘someone else’s problem,” he said. “It is a clear and present danger.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying didn’t directly address Mr. Abe’s comments during a news briefing Thursday, and repeated Beijing’s position that Tokyo has “intentionally distorted facts” and acted irresponsibly in the islaad dispute.

Brian Spegele in Beijing contributed to this article.

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