TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Friday that Japan needs to expand its surveillance activities to cover the Pacific Ocean, as well as the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea, to better protect to its maritime interests.

Tokyo is locked in a bitter territorial dispute with Beijing over tiny a group of East China Sea islets, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

"So far, we have been conducting routine surveillance activities in such areas as the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. When we think about our marine-related interests, we need to conduct surveillance over the Pacific Ocean as well," Onodera said in a speech.

Onodera said the ministry plans to consider introducing unmanned drones to fortify its surveillance capabilities.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

 

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