China has advised Japan to stay on the “path of peace,” in what is considered as an official reaction to the recent appointment of a new defense minister in Japan.
“It is our position that whoever serves as the defense minister of Japan, the Japanese side should follow the path of peaceful development,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said in a briefing on Thursday.
Japan’s new Defense Minister Gen Nakatani, a former army officer, supports the expansion of Japan’s military role, endorsing the policy that the country should have the ability to attack enemy bases preemptively in the case of looming threats.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to pass a law in 2015 that allows the country to come to the aid of an ally and paves the way for its troops to fight overseas for the first time since World War Two.
China and Japan have recently had rocky relations over a number of issues, including Japan’s aspirations for a more interventionist military policy.
A dispute over a chain of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea - known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan - has also recently strained the relationship between China and Japan.
Tensions grew after Tokyo nationalized part of the resource-rich islands in 2012.