Japan voices China concerns at APEC

China’s increased naval maneuverings in waters of southwestern Okinawa Prefecture has drawn attention at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum now in progress in Indonesia.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida focused attention on the worrisome issue, noting  “It is critical to allow for unimpeded movement of people and goods. APEC members are connected to each other by sea and it benefits all of us to keep ensuring the freedom of navigation.”   Speaking from the Indonesian island of Bali, Kishida told attendees, including Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong, that “Establishing rule by law is fundamental for economic growth” in the region

Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had voiced concern during the trilateral talks that China’s aggressive maritime movements were problematic.  The three stressed that they “opposed any coercive or unilateral actions that could change the status quo in the East China Sea,” but did it without invoking China’s name.

Their statement also drew attention to “the importance of efforts to reduce tensions and to avoid miscalculations or accidents in the East China Sea, including by improving marine communications.”  Japan and China have been at loggerheads the past few months, ever since Japan nationalized the Senkaku Islands.  China and Taiwan say the uninhabited islands near Ishigaki are theirs, and not Japan’s.

China says it will continue protecting its interests in the region, but has called on other countries with competing claims to work together for peaceful resolution.