Japan will remain steadfast and cooperate with other countries in addressing China’s recent establishment of an air defense identification zone covering the Senkaku Islands, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday.
“We will respond firmly but in a calm manner” against China’s unilateral setting of the new flight rules, Abe was quoted by a ruling party lawmaker as telling a meeting in the prime minister’s office. “I will cooperate with allied countries, neighboring countries and international organizations.”
The lawmaker, Takeshi Iwaya of the Liberal Democratic Party, spoke to reporters after the meeting, during which he handed Abe a written LDP resolution criticizing China and urging Beijing to immediately withdraw the new measure.
Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said government leaders hope to confirm close cooperation next week with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden over the issue.
Biden is slated to visit Japan for three days starting Monday for talks with Abe and other officials, with the Chinese move high on the agenda.
“First we will steadily explain our views, what’s really going on regarding China’s establishment of an air defense identification zone,” Kishida told reporters. “We will then confirm the fact that Japan and the United States have steadily communicated, consulted and coordinated over the matter.”
Kishida said he hopes Biden will use such confirmation as a reference point when he visits China and South Korea immediately after his trip to Japan.
U.S. officials have said Biden will convey U.S. concerns directly to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang over the establishment of the ADIZ.
The Chinese zone overlaps a similar zone operated by Japan in the East China Sea, where the two Asian neighbors are feuding over the ownership of the Japanese-administered Senkakus, which are called the Diaoyu in China.
Tokyo and Washington have criticized the Chinese move as a unilateral attempt to change the status quo in the waters and one that could lead to an incident or invite unintended consequences.
Regarding a Xinhua News Agency report that the Chinese air force conducted “normal air patrols” in the Chinese zone Thursday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Friday that the Self-Defense Forces will continue surveillance activities in the Japanese ADIZ.
“We will not alter our surveillance and security activities. We will do our utmost through a calm response,” Suga said at a news conference.
Also Friday, Kishida said Tokyo remains eager to hold dialogue with Beijing, saying, “Our attitude that the door to dialogue is always open remains unchanged . . . we think it’s all the more important to have dialogue under these circumstances.”
Abe has yet to hold a summit with his Chinese counterparts since he became prime minister last December, with the sovereignty dispute over the uninhabited islet group remaining the main sticking point.
Under China’s newly declared rules, aircraft flying in its air defense zone must submit flight plans to Chinese authorities. Refusal to follow instructions may lead to “defensive emergency measures” by the Chinese military.
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