The United States on Tuesday called for cooperation and “good neighborliness” between Japan, South Korea and China, encouraging the constantly bickering nations to find ways to work together. Danny Russel, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia said that it was in the interest of all three to overcome the historical animosity that has kept relations between the three countries strained.
Russel revealed that he had “candid” talks with representatives from all three nations regarding the ongoing tensions during his recent stops in Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo. “There are multiple perspectives, but one thing is certain – none of the problems, none of these tensions, can be solved by any one party alone,” Russel said. “Frankly, we look to each of our friends and partners in the Asia-Pacific region to make a contribution to good relations and to good neighborliness,” he added. Specifically, Russel singled out Japan and South Korea, both being allies of the U.S. and democracies in their own right, saying that they had shared values that should “serve as the foundation for long-term trust.” Pointing to China and Japan, he says that Asia’s two largest economies “can and must work together” in the interests of their own countries.
Recent tensions elevated in December when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni shrine – a memorial to Japan’s war dead which includes convicted war criminals – to which South Korea and China voiced anger at. Earlier in November, tensions were already brought to a new level when China declared a new Air Defense Identification Zone over the East China Sea, including territory that was controlled by Japan but disputed by China. Russel has repeated the U.S.’s warnings to China not to create a similar zone in the South China Sea, where Beijing has ongoing disputes with a number of Southeast Asian nations. “We have made clear that we urge China not to attempt to implement the ADIZ and certainly not to replicate it in other sensitive areas, including and particularly in the South China Sea,” he said.
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