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Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2006

Paper hits North's missiles, China buildup

U.S. security alliance emphasized more than ever in annual report

Staff writer

The Defense Agency's 2006 white paper stresses the threat from North Korea's ballistic missiles and criticizes China for a lack of transparency over its growing military spending.

"North Korea's development, deployment and proliferation of ballistic missiles, along with (the) nuclear (arms) issue, are a destabilizing factor for the entire international community," the report reads.

"The range of North Korean missiles is expected to be extended (farther), including possible derivatives of Taepodong-2 missiles," the paper, released Tuesday, says in reference to Pyongyang's test-firing of a long-range ballistic missile on July 5 along with six other missiles.

But the paper does not include a detailed analysis of the North Korean launches because most of the text had been completed by early July, agency officials said.

The annual report examines the security situation around the world and explains Japan's defense policies.

The white paper was approved at a Cabinet meeting. In a first for the Defense Agency, a 429-page English version of the report -- excluding appendix -- will appear on its Web site Wednesday.

The online publication of the English version is designed to "enhance the transparency" of Japan's defense policies for other countries, agency officials said.

The paper criticizes China for its failure to provide information on its rapidly expanding military spending, pointing out that Beijing's defense budget has grown 13-fold in the past 18 years.

"Historically, China has not provided information on its equipment, the pace of upgrades to its military hardware, the unit-level composition of its personnel, records of its main military operations and exercises, and the amount and detailed breakdowns of its national defense budget," the paper says.

"In order to allay the concerns of (neighboring) countries over China, it is important for China to increase the transparency of its national defense policy and military capabilities."

The paper, also for the first time, includes a graphic showing the estimated ranges of China's ballistic missiles, some of which cover most of the U.S. mainland.

The paper stresses the importance of the deterrence provided by the Japan-U.S. military alliance, and its role in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

For the first time since the reports were first published in 1970, this year's paper devotes an entire chapter to the significance, framework and policies of the Japan-U.S. alliance. The section takes up 50 pages -- twice as many as last year.

When the two countries announced the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan in May, many cities and prefectures that host U.S. bases, particularly the Okinawa Prefectural Government, expressed dissatisfaction with the move and demanded that the burden on local residents, including noise pollution and the danger of accidents, be reduced.

The paper is an apparent effort to convince citizens of the importance of the alliance.

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The Japan Times

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