Biden urges Japan-China talks

December 04, 2013 - 6:51:01 am
Japan:  US Vice President Joe Biden called on Japan and China to find ways to reduce tensions that spiked after Beijing proclaimed an air defence zone over disputed isles in the East China Sea, while repeating Washington was “deeply concerned” by the move.

The United States has made clear it will stand by treaty obligations that require it to defend the Japanese-controlled islands, but it is also reluctant to get dragged into any military clash between the Asian rivals. 

“This action has raised regional tensions and increased the risk of accidents and miscalculation,” Biden told a news conference alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“This underscores the need for crisis management mechanisms and effective channels of communication between China and Japan to reduce the risk of escalation.”

He said he would raise US concerns directly when he met Chinese leaders.

Biden was on the first leg of an Asian trip that takes him to Beijing today and then to Seoul.

Biden also called for better ties between Washington’s Asian allies Tokyo and Seoul, chilled in recent months due in part to bitter South Korean memories of the 1910-1945 Japanese colonisation of the Korean peninsula. 

Japan reiterated yesterday that Tokyo and Washington had both rejected Beijing’s establishment of the zone - despite the fact that three US airlines, acting on government advice, are notifying China of plans to transit the area. 

“We reaffirmed that policies and measures of both our countries, including the operations of the (Japanese) Self-Defence Forces and US forces, will not change and we will closely cooperate,” Abe told the news conference.

“We agreed that we will not condone any actions that threaten the safety of civilian aircraft.”

Washington said over the weekend that the advice to US airlines did not mean US acceptance of the zone, and last week it sent two B-52 bombers into the area without informing China.

Washington is also asking China not to set up an air defence  zone in the South China Sea, where Beijing is locked in territorial rows  with Southeast Asian nations, without first consulting countries concerned, according to Kyodo news agency.

The Japanese and South Korean governments have advised their airlines not to submit flight plans in advance as demanded from all aircraft since the creation of the zone on November 23. 

Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings, however, are uneasy about flying through the zone without notifying China’s civil aviation authorities.

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