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Conflict continues over islands

JAPAN will set up a new amphibious military unit and deploy unarmed surveillance drones in its southwest, where it faces a row with China over disputed islands, according to drafts of the nation's latest defence plans.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the defence policy review after returning to office last December, pledging to strengthen the military and boost Japan's global security role.

The new defence guidelines and military build-up plan, to be approved by the government next week, follow China's declaration in November of a new air defence identification zone in an area that includes the disputed isles.

The move by Beijing triggering protests from Tokyo, as well as Washington and Seoul.

The drafts of the two plans were made available at a meeting of ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) politicians yesterday.

Final versions of the defence guideline, which lays out Japan's defence policy for the next 10 years, and the build-up plan will be unveiled on Tuesday.

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