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China warns Japan against modifying helicopter carriers

By
Elizabeth Shim
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying warned Japan against militarization of helicopter carriers on Tuesday. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying warned Japan against militarization of helicopter carriers on Tuesday. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 26 (UPI) -- China's foreign ministry issued a warning to Japan to "act prudently" following reports of Japanese military plans.

Beijing diplomatic spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday at a regular press briefing that Tokyo should realize peace "through action," referring to a report Japan is modifying the Izumo helicopter carrier for fighter jets, according to Xinhua.

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"We urge Japan to do more that may help enhance mutual trust and promote regional peace and stability," Hua said.

Kyodo News reported Monday Japan's defense ministry is considering a plan to purchase F-35B stealth fighters for use on helicopter carriers.

The report stated the aircraft would be particularly useful in deterring Chinese maritime actions, including deployment of coast guard vessels near Japan-claimed islands.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently endorsed the country's record-setting annual defense of $46 billion for fiscal year 2018, which will be used to deter North Korea and China's "growing military presence," according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

The measures, however, are being viewed with consternation in Beijing.

Hua said for "historical reasons" Japan's Asian neighbors are concerned about "Japanese military security trends," and voiced her opposition to buildup in the region.

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Any move to modify Japanese carriers could violate a clause in the country's pacifist constitution, which states Tokyo cannot possess "attack aircraft carriers."

Hua said the actions could be a violation of Article 9 of Japan's constitution.

Japan's Izumo-class carriers are its largest and can transport up to 14 helicopters.

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