United States Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated Washington’s official position on Friday, vowing that the United States would defend Japan against any Chinese attack that includes islands controlled by Tokyo, but claimed by Beijing. Tensions have been high in the region since the beginning of the year and Kerry, who met in Washington with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, reaffirmed the U.S.’s commitment to the 1960 treaty that commits the United States forces to protecting Japan.
“That includes with respect to the East China Sea,” Kerry said, where China and Japan have conflicting claims, even as Kerry is scheduled to visit Beijing next week. In November, much of the region – and even United States, who are allies with South Korea and Japan – were taken by surprise at China’s unilateral announcement of an Air Defense Identification Zone that covers much of the East China Sea, including the disputed islets called Senkakus by Japan and Diaoyus by China. “The United States neither recognizes nor accepts China’s declared East China Sea ADIZ and the United States has no intention of changing how we conduct operations in the region,” Kerry said. Kishida, for his part, had gone on this visit to extend an invitation for US President Barack Obama to make a state visit to Japan. US government sources say Obama is likely to visit Japan on an April tour of Asia.
The U.S. and its allies in Asia are now growing concerned that Beijing will make the same unilateral announcement of an air defense zone in the South China Sea, where the Philippines – another country that the U.S. shares history with – has voiced its worries over Beijing’s maritime aggressiveness. Kerry’s impending trip to Asia comes as critics say that he has been remiss in focusing too much on the Middle East that issues East Asia have been overlooked by Washington. Kerry declared that he was committed to the goal set by President Obama of “pivoting” the country’s attention to Asia.
[via Space Daily]