U.S. Stresses Commitment to Defend Japan in Washington Talks
Washington – The United States on Friday stressed its commitment to the defense of Japan and stability in the Asia-Pacific region against a backdrop of increasingly assertive territorial claims by China. After a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Japan relationship, which both countries say remains robust in spite of a bump after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited a controversial war shrine in December.
Kerry said the United States and Japan were committed to closer security collaboration and stressed the long-standing U.S. commitment to defend Japan if it is attacked. “I … underscored that the United States remains as committed as ever to upholding our treaty obligations with our Japanese allies,” Kerry told reporters after talks with Kishida.
“That includes with respect to the East China Sea,” Kerry said. He reiterated that Washington “neither recognizes nor accepts” an air-defense zone China has declared in the region that it disputes with Japan and other Asia nations. Kerry also said the United States would not change how it conducts operations there.
“We are deeply committed to maintaining the prosperity and the stability in the Asia-Pacific,” Kerry said. The United States flew B-52 bombers through the Chinese air defense zone after it was declared last year. U.S. officials have warned that any declaration by Beijing of another such zone in the South China Sea could result in changes to U.S. military deployments in the region.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, attacked Kerry’s remarks in a statement on Saturday, saying China’s air-defense zone was fully in line with international law and norms. “We urge the U.S. side to stop making irresponsible remarks so as not to harm regional stability and the China-U.S. relationship,” Hong said. In a separate statement Hong also said that any policy adjustment by the United States in the Asia-Pacific region “must work for regional peace and stability.” (Reuters)