Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers followed by a US cruiser and destroyer conducting joint operations in November. Photo: US Navy via AFP

A panel of advisers to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is reportedly urging the government to focus on ocean or maritime policy as a key security issue.

UPI, picking up a report from Japan’s Jiji press service, says the stress on maritime security follows Pyongyang’s missile tests and incursions by Chinese military planes and ships into Japanese territorial waters this year.

In a shift, the panel making recommendations for Japan’s five-year “Basic Plan on Ocean Policy” wants Tokyo to apportion more funds for maritime security involving military activities than developing oceanic resources such as fisheries.

Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun says the five-year plan advocates preserving the oceans as an open and freely navigable area based on the “rule of law.” The big Japanese newspaper reportedly says such a policy includes the maintenance and management of Japan’s border islands in the East Sea, and bolstering military security near those areas.

The main area of friction is the Senkaku Islands (called Diaoyu by China) that are claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing. The tiny isles have been the scene of face offs between Japanese and Chinese planes and naval vessels.

Japan has also moved small Ground Self-Defense Force units to the Ryukyu islands south of Okinawa.

Tokyo and Beijing are reportedly creating a hotline between the two countries to head off accidental military clashes in the East Sea.

Trump unveils new US national security policy

In related news, President Donald Trump was in the process of unveiling a new, assertive US national security policy on Monday that focuses, in part, on creating a new system of US diplomatic alliances with India and Japan to deter China in the region.

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