Just prior to his arrival in Tokyo, United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta commented that if the provocative behavior between the Japanese and Chinese governments over the territorial islands dispute continues, he is fearful that it could lead to war in the Asian region. He explained that these provocations increase the likelihood of misjudgment or misunderstanding on either side, which can easily result in violence. Panetta appealed for both sides to use restraint going forward.
Many violent anti-Japanese demonstrations have erupted in China over the weekend, with several taking place in front of Japanese embassies and requiring armed police with barriers. The Pentagon remains fearful that the hostility has a potential to expand. Panetta said that both he and Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, are urging Japan and China to look for peaceful ways to discuss and resolve their issues. The Defense Secretary will meet with his Japanese counterpart in Tokyo before making a visit to China.
With Japan and China, and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region so economically linked, Panetta says that disputes over resource-rich areas are only likely to increase. Separate from the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands dispute with Japan, China has been seen as increasing its claims to territories in the South China Sea, which includes the bullying of smaller nations like Vietnam and the Philippines over strategic waterways. Panetta’s trip to Asia is part of the U.S.’s efforts to shift diplomatic and military focus to Asia in response to growing power and assertion from China.
[via Malaysia Chronicle]