Flying Towards War? Drone Race Signals Escalation in Sino-Japanese Tensions
The “Yi Long” drone by China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) is displayed during the 9th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai on November 13, 2012. (AFP Photo/Philippe Lopez)
The development and acquisition of drones has become crucial to the ever-expanding arms race between China and Japan, as tensions over disputed islands in the East China Sea could soon reach boiling point.
Weaknesses in Japan’s surveillance capability and the ongoing territorial dispute over the Senkaku islands, known as the Diaoyu in China, have spurred Tokyo to purchase an advanced drone model from the US.
Japan’s vulnerability was highlighted late last year when Japanese radar failed to detect a low-flying Chinese aircraft passing over the group of disputed islands.
The drones will seemingly be deployed “to counter China’s growing assertiveness at sea, especially when it comes to the Senkaku islands,” the Kyodo news agency quoted an unnamed defense ministry official as saying.
Japanese concerns that the islands will be used by China as a prelude to testing regional power balances, prompted Japan’s Defense Ministry to request $2.4 billion dollars from hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose conservative government swept to power on December 26.