U.S. Secretary of State sides with Japan on Senkakus
It didn’t take long for the new American Secretary of State to become potentially embroiled in a political hot potato, taking side with Japan in the dispute of the Senkaku Islands in southwestern Okinawa Prefecture.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida that the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea are covered by the Japan-U.S. security treaty. During their first ministerial meeting in Washington, Kerry said he reaffirms the United States’ unwavering position that the islands falls under the scope of the bilateral security treaty. Under the treaty, the United States is bound to protect the territories under the administration of Japan.
Kishida expressed his gratitude for the clarification by Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton, at their meeting in January that the United States opposes “any unilateral actions that would seek to undermine Japanese administration” of the islands.
Kerry complimented Japan on the restraint it has shown in handling the Senkaku issue amid heightened tensions with China. The uninhabited islands are also claimed by China, which it calls Diaoyu. The U.S. secretary of state, who was sworn in this month, said he hopes to make a tour of Asian countries, including Japan, at an early time.
Kishida and Kerry agreed that the two countries will work closely to ensure that the U.N. Security Council will shortly adopt a resolution imposing additional sanctions against North Korea for conducting a nuclear test earlier this month in defiance of international calls for restraint. They also confirmed their countries’ commitment to implement the current plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma
Air Station in the central part of Ginowan, to the Henoko coastal area in Nago. As for the timing of a central government application for Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s approval for landfill work in the Henoko area to construct a Futenma replacement facility, Kishida told reporters after the meeting that the government will push forward the process while carefully listening to local opinions.
During their talks, Kishida said when he visited Okinawa earlier this month, he felt a harsh attitude of local officials and residents to the large U.S. military presence here.
Kishida called on Kerry to agree to set a concrete deadline for the return to Japan of U.S. military facility sites south of the U.S. Air Force’s Kadena base in Okinawa.
They agreed that the so-called Two-Plus-Two talks among foreign and defense ministers from Japan and the United States will be held to review progress in working-level efforts on the planned revision to the bilateral defense cooperation guidelines.