Japan will express its wariness over China’s muscle-flexing in the South China Sea in this year’s defence white paper, warning Beijing’s militarisation of the disputed waters is making its territorial claims a fait accompli, according to an outline of the paper obtained by Kyodo News. The white paper, which Japan’s Cabinet is expected to approve early next month, will say China’s activities in the South China Sea could be called a high-handed, unilateral action to change the status quo, the outline indicates. US forces will keep operating in South China Sea ‘as long as international law allows’ China last week denounced a UN-backed tribunal’s finding that there was no legal basis for its claims to most of the strategic, resource-rich waters. Japan has urged China to respect the rule of law and comply with the tribunal’s decision. Beijing, however, has rejected the ruling and called on Tokyo not to interfere in issues related to the South China Sea. China has also accused Japan through media reports of pulling the strings of the tribunal and appointing its members. Japan and other countries in the region are concerned about China’s growing assertiveness and military buildup in the contested waters of the South China Sea. Japan is not a claimant in the South China Sea disputes between China and five other governments in the region. But Tokyo faces challenges from Beijing related to its claim to the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. China also claims those uninhabited islands, which it calls Diaoyu. How The Hague ruling against China could spell trouble for Japan The white paper outline says that China’s activities are intensifying near those islands. It notes that a Chinese navy ship last month sailed in a contiguous zone just outside the territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands. And it says the number of times that Japan has scrambled its Air Self-Defence Force fighter jets against Chinese aircraft approaching its airspace is rising sharply. As for North Korea, the white paper will criticise Pyongyang’s repeated provocative actions, including its test in January of a nuclear explosive device. North Korea has conducted four nuclear tests in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions. Referring to Pyongyang’s launch in February of a long-range rocket that utilised banned ballistic missile technology, the white paper will assert that North Korea has obtained the technology to bring mid- and long-range ballistic missiles to the stage of practical use, and is keen to pursue more advanced missile development, the outline indicates. North Korea fires three ballistic missiles off east coast, angered by deal to place US defence system in South The outline restates, as last year’s paper did, that there is a possibility that North Korea may have succeeded in miniaturising nuclear weapons for warheads. Regarding terrorism, in the wake of the terrorist attack on a restaurant in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka earlier this month, in which 20 people including seven Japanese were killed, the outline says the threat of terrorism is spreading globally, and Japan must face this as its own challenge. With caskets draped in white sheets, the bitter reality of terror attack arrives home in Japan The white paper is also expected to devote a new chapter to the country’s new security legislation, which came into effect in March. It enables Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defence, or coming to the aid of friendly nations under attack even if Japan itself is not attacked.