Ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute be­tween China, Ja­pan heats up

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY MARI YA­M­AGUCHI

TOKYO | A war of words be­tween Ja­pan and China over a ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute es­ca­lated Mon­day, with each coun­try sum­mon­ing the other’s am­bas­sador and Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe call­ing a newly de­clared Chi­nese mar­itime air de­fense zone dan­ger­ous and un­en­force­able.

Mr. Abe told a par­lia­men­tary ses­sion that the zone al­ters the state of af­fairs in the East China Sea and es­ca­lates ten­sion.

“The mea­sures by the Chi­nese side have no va­lid­ity what­so­ever for Ja­pan, and we de­mand China revoke any mea­sures that could in­fringe upon the free­dom of flight in in­ter­na­tional airspace,” Mr. Abe said. “It can in­vite an un­ex­pected oc­cur­rence and it is a very dan­ger­ous thing as well.”

On Satur­day, Bei­jing is­sued a map of the zone and a set of rules that say all air­craft must no­tify Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties and are sub­ject to emer­gency mil­i­tary mea­sures if they do not iden­tify them­selves or obey Bei­jing’s or­ders.

Mr. Abe said the mea­sures one-sid­edly im­pose rules set by the Chi­nese mil­i­tary on all flights in the zone, and vi­o­late the free­dom to fly above open sea, a gen­eral prin­ci­ple un­der in­ter­na­tional law. He also slammed China for show­ing the dis­puted is­lands, called Senkaku in Ja­panese and Diaoyu in Chi­nese, as Chi­nese ter­ri­tory in the zone.

Since tak­ing of­fice last year, Mr. Abe has moved to step up Ja­pan’s de­fenses, cit­ing threats from China’s grow­ing mar­itime and mil­i­tary pres­ence. Ja­pan has had a sim­i­lar zone since the 1960s.

Later Mon­day, Ja­panese Vice For­eign Min­is­ter Ak­i­taka Saiki sum­moned Chi­nese Am­bas­sador Cheng Yonghua to protest the move in per­son, a day af­ter Saiki’s deputy protested to China by phone. Mr. Cheng balked at Ja­pan’s com­plaint, re­fus­ing to re­tract the mea­sures.

“China be­lieves it is the Ja­panese side that should with­draw its un­rea­son­able de­mand,” Mr. Cheng told re­porters af­ter meet­ing with Mr. Saiki. “But both of us should try to take cau­tion­ary steps in or­der to pre­vent unan­tic­i­pated oc­cur­rences.”

In Bei­jing, As­sis­tant For­eign Min­is­ter Zheng Zeguang met with Ja­panese Am­bas­sador Kit­era Masato to com­plain.

“The Ja­panese side is not en­ti­tled to make ir­re­spon­si­ble re­marks and ma­li­cious ac­cu­sa­tions against China,” he said, ac­cord­ing to China’s For­eign Min­istry. He said Ja­pan should cor­rect its mis­takes, stop un­der­min­ing re­gional sta­bil­ity and avoid dam­age to China-Ja­pan re­la­tions.

South Korea also com­plained Mon­day about the Chi­nese zone, which in­cludes the airspace above a set of sub­merged rocks that are con­trolled by Seoul but also claimed by Bei­jing.

South Korea’s De­fense Min­istry sum­moned China’s mil­i­tary at­tache in Seoul, say­ing the zone is un­ac­cept­able be­cause it was drawn uni­lat­er­ally. De­fense Min­istry spokesman Kim Min-seok said South Korea’s con­trol over the area re­mains un­changed and Seoul won’t no­tify China when its planes pass through the re­gion.

Ear­lier Mon­day, China’s For­eign Min­istry said it com­plained to the U.S. over its “ir­re­spon­si­ble re­marks” about China’s cre­ation of a zone for the dis­puted is­lands, which are ad­min­is­tered by Ja­pan.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ja­pan Mar­itime Self-De­fense Force’s sur­veil­lance plane flies over the dis­puted is­lands in the East China Sea, called the Senkaku in Ja­pan and Diaoyu in China.

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