Japan strengthens defense of disputed islands

Japan's military is stepping up its defense of islands also claimed by China and will propose talks with India on diplomatic and security issues as part of attempts to counter China's growing military might in Asia, a report said Saturday. To strengthen its ability to repulse a possible Chinese invasion of the disputed East China Sea islands, Japan's Self-Defense Forces will conduct joint exercises with the US Marine Corps in January and develop short-range torpedoes for combat in shallow waters, the business newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported. The report came days after Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said Beijing poses "a considerable military threat" because it has nuclear weapons and is boosting its military spending. China called the remarks irresponsible and groundless. Japan envisions a scenario in which China would invade the islets, called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, the newspaper said. About 125 Japanese troops will be sent to San Diego, California, in January for joint exercises with US Marines simulating a landing on an occupied island, the report said. Self-Defense Forces officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the report, but have earlier said the two countries plan joint training by the end of March.