WASHINGTON – Japan’s alliance with the United States has served as a deterrent in the territorial dispute with China as it called for calm in the row, the ambassador to the U.S. said Thursday.
Washington has stated that it takes no position on the disputed islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, but has made clear that its security treaty with Japan covers all areas under Tokyo’s control.
The United States “has been saying that they do not take a position on the sovereignty issue but have always stated that U.S.-Japan security arrangements would cover those islands,” Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki said.
“I think that constitutes an important deterrence,” he said at the Brookings Institution think tank.
Tensions have soared in recent months as rival nationalist groups sailed to stake their claims to the remote and potentially resource-rich area. Japan has moved to nationalize the islands from a private owner in what it called a bid to pre-empt a similar attempt by hawkish Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara.
Fujisaki downplayed speculation that the row and the island dispute with South Korea could flare into full-blown conflicts, saying: “That’s not going to happen, that should not happen.
“This is not started by us — by Japan — and we have a good historical and legal position.
“However, our position is very clear — we are not going to raise tension and try to take it up emotionally. We would like to calmly deal with this.”
The rows have spread to global economic policy, with China shunning the annual IMF and World Bank meetings under way in Tokyo. However, Fujisaki credited China with making progress in recent weeks in controlling anti-Japanese protests.
China health no-show
Chinese Health Minister Chen Zhu is among the Chinese officials skipping events in Tokyo on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, organizers said Friday.
In apparent protest over the Senkaku Islands dispute, Zhu did not participate in a seminar on health issues Thursday, while the executives from state-affiliated China Investment Co. and Bank of Deyang canceled their attendance at an event on the global economy Friday, the organizers said.
The no-shows came after Chinese Finance Minister Xie Xuren and People’s Bank of China Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan, as well as representatives from major Chinese banks, skipped the IMF and World Bank meetings.