TACLOBAN, PHILIPPINES – Japan’s defense minister called on the international community Sunday to oppose China’s recently declared maritime air defense zone over the East China Sea and possibly over the disputed South China Sea.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera discussed Japan’s concern over China’s action separately with Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Australian Foreign Minister Julia Bishop. Onodera and Bishop separately visited central Tacloban city, which was ruined by Typhoon Haiyan last month.
In his meeting with Bishop, Onodera said he mentioned that the international community “should meet to deal with this matter together” and that any unilateral action by coercive means should be opposed.
“If any country would establish a similar air zone in the South China Sea, that would bring up tension in the region and I mentioned that should be stopped,” he told reporters in Tacloban, where he visited a school serving as a shelter for villagers who lost their homes in the Nov. 8 typhoon.
He said that the issue should be resolved by dialogue.
The United States, Australia, South Korea and other countries have also expressed alarm over China’s new air identification zone. Beijing says all aircraft entering the vast area must identify themselves and follow Chinese instructions.
China’s ambassador to the Philippines, Ma Keqing, said early this week that it was Beijing’s right to decide “where and when to set up” an air identification zone. She was asked about a possibility that China might set up a similar zone over the South China Sea.
Ma did not say if China would set up such a zone.
Onodera said that China’s unilateral action violates the spirit of the International Civil Aviation Organization treaty.