The online news portal of TV5
TOKYO - The shifting relationship between China's one-party government and the military is a "risk management issue" for Japan, Tokyo warned Tuesday in its annual defense report.
The report, which also described North Korea as a "significant threat" to Japan's security, said the Chinese People's Liberation Army had been voicing its opinions more frequently, a key shift in political-military ties.
"Relations between the (Communist Party) leadership and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) have been getting more complex," the report said, adding that the shift posed a "risk management issue".
"The degree of military influence on foreign policy decisions has been changing," it added.
Senior Chinese military officials have become more vocal, making public comments about US military drills in regional waters, for example, Japanese defense officials said at a briefing.
China has been embroiled in separate spats over regional territorial claims -- with Japan as well as with several Southeast Asian nations including Vietnam and the Philippines-- which have flared up in recent years.
But the report also said the PLA may have limited influence with the number of its personnel on key political decision-making bodies declining, as China readies for a once-in-a-decade leadership shuffle.
"As part of Japan's risk management, we recognize that the intentions and purposes behind China's actions are becoming less predictable, which is a challenge when we address the country," said Toshinori Tanaka, director of the defense ministry's strategic intelligence analysis office.
Tokyo again this year referred to China's response in disputes with its neighbors as "assertive", a description that raised eyebrows in Beijing when it was first published in last year's report.
"China's (military) moves, together with the lack of transparency in its military affairs and security issues, are a matter of concern," the report added, noting Chinese defense spending grew 30-fold in the past two decades.
The report warned over Pyongyang's high-profile rocket launch earlier this year, which the reclusive Stalinist state described as a peaceful satellite but critics condemned as a long-range ballistics missile test.