News / Asia

US Opposes Any Unilateral Action on Japan/China Island Dispute

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The United States is urging new leaders in China and Japan to find a peaceful way to settle their long-standing territorial dispute over islands in the East China Sea. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Friday with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida to discuss the standoff.  

The election of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has added to growing tensions over the contested islands with his plans to increase overall Japanese defense spending.

Kishida said the Abe administration considers China one of its most important bilateral relationships and intends to promote a broad, mutually-beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests.

"While Japan will not concede and will uphold our fundamental position that the Senkaku Islands are an inherent territory of Japan, we intend to respond calmly so as not to provoke China," he said through an interpreter following talks with Secretary Clinton.

The islands called the Senkakus in Japan are known as the Diaoyus in China.

The long-standing dispute grew more serious in 2010 when Chinese fishermen rammed two Japanese coast guard vessels. Beijing and Tokyo now conduct rival aerial surveillance over the disputed waters, adding to U.S. concerns of more serious confrontation.

Clinton said Washington is working to preserve the status quo until there is a more constructive dialogue.

"Although the United States does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the islands, we acknowledge they are under the administration of Japan," said Clinton. "And we oppose any unilateral actions that would seek to undermine Japanese administration. And we urge all parties to take steps to prevent incidents and manage disagreements through peaceful means."

She said the Obama administration is hopeful that Tokyo and Beijing can lower tensions and prevent an escalation of the standoff that would permit them to discuss a range of other important issues.

"We applaud the early steps taken by Prime Minister Abe's government to reach out and begin discussions. We want to see the new leaders - both in Japan and China - get off to a good start with each other in the interest of the security of the entire region," said Clinton.

In addition to the island dispute with Japan, China also has territorial standoffs with Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei over the South China Sea.

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by: KT from: Texas
January 19, 2013 11:48 AM
"Although the United States does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the islands, we acknowledge they are under the administration of Japan," -- this logic sounds stupid and contradicting.

In Response

by: Bobo from: China
January 19, 2013 9:26 PM
Yes, US is taking a position. This sentense sounds funny.


by: John
January 19, 2013 10:46 AM
Observe the development of the ideas of the Republic of China from 1949 to now see. By investing in the U.S., Japan and Western countries that China now has the world's No. 2 economy with high annual growth rate, missiles, nuclear weapons, submarines, ships and ground flying ...
Han Dynasty China increasingly hegemonic expansion of water around the world is the sea and the islands adjacent to China. Expansionist Nazi aggression as the 1939-1945 military dependable winter and a lot of money, modern weapons threats may invade the island and the sea to expand Chinese territory as force invaded the island in Paracel and Spratly islands of Vietnam in 1974 and 1988 and is threatening to conquer Japan's Senkaku Islands. The Chinese government continues to use the match from the ancient Qin of more than 2200 years ago is: to conquer the country in the near and distant country to play with. China would like to quickly crowned the world's number one power ancient as Qin Shi Huang to rule the world. Observe the situation inside of certain Chinese when the Chinese strengthened economic weapons to a level, they will take the initiative to wage war up the sea, the islands and the mainland began around China . In fact, from 1949 until today they took the initiative to wage war with the majority of the surrounding countries like: Tibetan, Russia, India, Korea, Vietnam, in China ruled by an iron fist.
The people of the country near the Chinese government wanted the United States, Japan, Russia and the other peace-loving countries to support assistance in preventing China from regional expansion throughout the world! Prevent catastrophic expansionist China certainly better now than later!

In Response

by: Redcliff from: Aus
January 20, 2013 7:28 PM
@ John

I am sorry most of your thoughts are too deep for me to follow.
I need more time to decipher them further.


by: Asian from: Asia
January 19, 2013 10:30 AM
If UN have power to judge this matter between China and Japan, please cancel "China Sea "to global sea, because the sea was belonged to everyone and not only China.

In Response

by: Redcliff from: Aus
January 20, 2013 7:21 PM
@ Asian from Asia

That's one way of looking at it.
If so why stop there and why not pushed for the whole earth belongs to the Global citizen and let's renamed all the countries under one name Global Nation including the country you are currently residing.


by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
January 19, 2013 10:21 AM
The US advises China and Japan to avoid any unilateral action regarding their longstanding territorial dispute over the islands in the South China Sea. Does this advise apply for the other territorial disputes between China and Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and Brunei regarding other islands in the South China Sea? The US advisory is to maintain the status quo. The US is acting as mediator which is not recognized by any of the countries with territorial dispute with China. The US cannot be a mediater with military ties with nations in dispute.
The US help is needed to resolve the territorial disputes in South China Sea. Resolving the territorial dispute is important for peace in the Pacific rim countries and the US interests in the area.
The territorial disputes originate from multiple claims for the same territory involving more than two countries. Hence a settlement cannot be reached by bilateral talks as advocated by China who want to maintain their territorial claims. Since several countries are involved in the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the US should encourage all the countries involved to refer the dispute to the International Court for Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherland for peaceful resolution of these multilateral territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

In Response

by: Redcliff from: Aus
January 20, 2013 12:38 AM
@ Davis K. Thanjan from New York

" The US help is needed to resolve the territorial disputes in the South China Sea."

Before we even proceed to this stage. There are many unanswered questions which the US can only provide these answers.The specific one in my mind is based on what legal ground that US handed over the Diaoyu Islands to Japan for administration. Bear in mind that this Islands do not belong to USA and has never been throughout history if I can recollect.

The war has ended and all islands occupied by Japan before the WWII were supposed to return to their rightful owners except those specifically mentioned that are Japan.

If this question can be satisfactory answered and accepted by both parties then I am sure many countries in territory disputes would welcome USA input to help to resolve their differences.
them in a fair manner


by: bob from: CA, USA
January 19, 2013 8:27 AM
Wait, didn't Japan just take unilateral action to "nationalize" these islands in September, 2012? How come the US did not stop Japan for doing this?

In Response

by: Redcliff from: Aus
January 20, 2013 12:15 AM
@ bob

My first question is exactly as you have stated.

I would also like to query this statement by Mrs. Clinton - " We applaud the early steps taken by the Abe' Government to reach out and began discussions".

It would be clearer if Mrs. Clinton could elaborate as to when Abe's Government has reached out to China and began discussion and if VOA could also assist in stating these events. I have been on VOA, BBC, ABC and Chinese medias and I yet to hear them reported Abe's action in reaching out to began discussions.

If the claim is true and verified then this is a very good step to start amending the deteriorating relationship between China and Japan.


by: Anonymous
January 19, 2013 6:07 AM
that's because the white house knows if a war breaks out how bad it will affect things back home.


by: reader A
January 19, 2013 1:14 AM
Japan unilaterally purchased the disputed islands, now they claim the ownership!?! That's the main cause of the tension... So what are you going to say, Mrs Clinton?


by: mike2013 from: Canada
January 19, 2013 12:33 AM
It would be nice if Beijing and Tokyo sat down to talk but Tokyo doesn't even acknowledge that a dispute/problem exists.

It's not only China against the rest. It's also Taiwan against the rest.


by: Anonymous
January 19, 2013 12:29 AM
Where is the position for Taiwan? Those islands are belonging to Taiwan. US government forgot his loyal friends in WWII and and play the dangerous game in the world. We will remember this for generation by generation.

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