China urges peace amid Japanese defense budget increase

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on Monday urged Japan to stick to the path of peaceful development after Japan announced it will increase the country’s defense budget.

“Owing to historical reasons, any move taken by Japan in the military area will draw great attention from neighboring countries,” spokesman Hong Lei told a daily press briefing.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on Sunday said Japan’s yearly defense budget will expand by 40 billion yen (440 million U.S. dollars), or about 0.8 percent, starting from April.

“We hope the Japanese side will stick to the path of peaceful development, respect the concerns of countries in the region, take history as a mirror and do more things conducive to regional peace and stability,” Hong said.

Onodera announced the plan to beef up Japan’s defense budget as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe voiced his willingness to improve relations with China through dialogue. Media reports speculate that the budget rise is aimed at dealing with Chinese ships and planes.

“We have noted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s relevant remarks,” Hong said, adding that the Chinese government has not changed its policy of attaching importance to its ties with Japan, as the two countries are close neighbors important to each other.

Under the current circumstances, the two sides should shoulder national and historical responsibilities as well as display political wisdom to overcome the prominent difficulties and advance the strategic, mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries in line with the “four political documents,” said the spokesman.

The documents — the China-Japan Joint Statement on Comprehensively Advancing Strategic and Reciprocal Relations, the Sino-Japanese Joint Statement, the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship and the Sino-Japanese Joint Declaration — were signed by the two sides in 1972, 1978, 1998 and 2008, respectively.

“We hope the Japanese side will make joint efforts with China to appropriately control and resolve problems through practical action,” Hong added.

Xinhua