Japan pledged to promote the development of unmanned underwater drones to strengthen maritime security against China's increasing military assertiveness in a revised draft of Tokyo's five-year ocean policy, government officials said Friday.

In the new version of the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy, which will serve as a guideline for Japan's ocean policy, the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned that China's rise has rapidly changed the military balance in the Indo-Pacific region.

The draft also proposed resource-poor Japan should implement measures to facilitate the use of ocean-derived energy, such as wind power.

The government is expected to approve the new edition of the policy as early as this month.

In revising the current version, Tokyo referred to Beijing by name as Chinese coast guard vessels have repeatedly entered Japanese territorial waters in the East China Sea.

Undated photo shows an autonomous underwater vehicle of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology. (Photo courtesy of the agency)(Kyodo)

Relations between Japan and China have often been strained over the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku Islands, which Beijing claims and calls Diaoyu.

Japan has become wary that China has conducted military drills with Russia in the nearby waters, and Tokyo believes this puts its national interests at risk.

In a bid to bolster its maritime security, the draft said Japan will accelerate the research and development of autonomous underwater vehicles and remotely operated vehicles for surveillance and resource exploration activities.

With an eye on realizing a carbon neutral society through energy generated from the ocean, the draft added the government will develop legislation that will enable offshore wind power generators to be installed within Japan's exclusive economic zone.

In the wake of a deadly tour boat accident off the northern main island of Hokkaido in April 2022, the draft also emphasized the necessity of taking steps to enhance rescue capabilities to respond to maritime accidents swiftly.

The Basic Plan on Ocean Policy was first crafted in 2008 and has been revised every five years.