BEIJING (Reuters) - China expressed concern on Monday after Japan unveiled plans to boost the number of its military personnel, as a bitter territorial dispute between the two countries drags on.
Japan’s Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Sunday the government would increase the number of personnel, now standing at about 225,000, by 287 in the next fiscal year starting in April, the biggest rise in two decades. The figure represents an expansion of about 0.1 percent.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Japan should pay greater attention to regional concerns, alluding to Japan’s at times brutal behaviour during World War Two which China considers Japan has not done enough to atone for.
“Due to historical reasons, Japan’s neighbouring countries pay great attention to its military developments,” Hong told a daily news briefing.
“We hope that Japan pursues a path of peaceful development, respects the concerns of countries in the region, take history as a mirror and does more to benefit regional peace and stability,” he added.
China and Japan are engaged in an increasingly hostile dispute over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
Both sides sought to cool tension last week, with Chinese Communist Party chief Xi Jinping telling an envoy from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he was committed to developing bilateral ties.
China’s own military advances have rattled the region, including developing stealth fighters and launching the country’s first aircraft carrier.
On Sunday, the government said it had again tested emerging military technology aimed at destroying missiles in mid-air.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel