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The Japanese government plans to develop a large unmanned submarine to gather information on the remote islands of the archipelago, such as Senkaku, also disputed by Beijing, the Kyodo news agency reported.
The construction of the submarine is included in the “Medium Term Defense Program” of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who wants the document to be approved by mid-December and to start applying from April 2019, according to a government source quoted by the Kyodo news agency.
The main objective of Tokyo is to strengthen surveillance in remote islands, such as Senkaku, in which there are constant diplomatic frictions with China.
Japan has a dispute with Beijing over the sovereignty of Senkaku (Diaoyu in Chinese), run by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing. The tension between the two countries has increased after the construction of artificial islands and military facilities by Beijing in the South China Sea.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, despite claims from neighbouring countries. In recent years, it has built seven reefs on artificial islands, capable of receiving military installations. The new islands are close to others occupied by Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan.
Malaysia and Brunei are other territories that vie for jurisdiction over islands and reefs, rich in fishing and potential deposits of fossil fuels.