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Reef Reclamation by China and the Security of Japan and the Asian Region

Koda Yoji, former Maritime Self-Defense Force Fleet CommanderThe current conditions in the South China Sea, an area that has been attracting global attention since last year, can be called a product of China’s underhanded strategies for turning the concentrated international interest in antagonism between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands to its own advantage. China, which had had no effective military foothold in the southern part of the South China Sea, has attempted to build man-made islands and military bases on the Spratly Islands (hereinafter referred to as the “man-made island preparation”) by reclaiming reefs there, using the situation in the East China Sea as cover. The United States, which must have known about the man-made island preparation, refrained from demanding that China exercise self-control until the beginning of last year. Interpreting this stance as tacit approval by the United States, China accelerated the man-made island preparation, ignoring the opposition of countries facing the South China Sea. Feeling uneasy about the rapid progress of the man-made island preparation, the U.S. administration led by President Barack Obama turned its policy around at the beginning of last year. The administration informed the world about the current conditions in the South China Sea through means including CNN reports and statements made by the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and asked China to stop construction immediately. With these steps as a turning point, criticism mounted worldwide, forcing China to issue a statement on the termination of construction work and the suspension of subsequent facility construction at one point. Contrary to these developments, however, China has been showing no signs of suspending the man-made island preparation.... [Read more]


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