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Abe, Biden agree to address ADIZ concerns in coordinated manner

English.news.cn   2013-12-03 23:00:33            

TOKYO, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden held talks here Tuesday as part of Biden's week-long trip that will also see him visit China and South Korea at a time when tensions in the Asia Pacific regions, due to territorial disputes and air demarkation zones, are rising.

The two leaders jointly told a news conference after their meeting that in a coordinated effort concerns will be raised with leaders in China regarding the newly-formed Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), in the interests of lowering tensions in the region.

"I will be raising these issues with great specificity when I meet with Chinese leadership," Biden said, adding that Washington' s priority was to lower tensions in the region.

Biden also has urged both Japan and China to do their utmost to seek diplomatic means of lowering the levels of mounting agitation, in the interests of stability in the region, but he stopped short of public stating that China must immediately withdraw its ADIZ -- a notion that would almost certainly be rejected by Beijing -- despite political sources here claiming that Tokyo had hoped Washington would use this forum to do so.

Instead, Biden called for Tokyo and Beijing to take steps towards reestablishing more effective, ministerial levels of communication between both parties, in the interests of preventing current tensions from escalating further.

"This underscores the need for crisis management mechanisms and effective channels of communication between China and Japan to reduce the risk of escalation," Biden said, having also leant on Tokyo to forge more amiable relations with Seoul, also at odds with Tokyo, and where the vice president will conclude the final leg of his delicate diplomatic mission on Friday.

Abe, for his part, reiterated the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance in the region, stating that ongoing issues would not affect the long-standing cooperation between the two nations' forces.

"We reaffirmed that policies and measures of both our countries, including the operations of the Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces, will not change and we will closely cooperate," Abe said, adding "we agreed that we will not condone any actions that threaten the safety of civilian aircraft."

Biden said the United States would fulfill its security obligations to Japan while again ingeminating the need for effective communication and diplomacy between Tokyo and Beijing.

Biden's trip here is seen as pivotal to communicating imperative information to all sides in a manner that Washington hopes will ease tensions in the region, rather than exacerbate them by overly cozying up to its closest ally in the region.

"The U.S. has to tread a fine line between supporting the hawkish Abe and making him over-confident to the point where he might provoke China," Takehiko Yamamoto, a professor of international politics at Waseda University in Tokyo was quoted as saying on the matter.

"Washington does not want to take the risk of damaging its bilateral ties with China," he said.

Abe and Biden on Tuesday also traversed issues pertaining to the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact negotiations and resolved their commitments to conclude negotiations by the end of the year despite the two countries being primarily responsible for the holdup.

Abe said after meeting Biden that Japan and the United States would spearhead talks going forward, in the interests of resolving outstanding differences by the year-end.

Japan and the United States have been at loggerheads over Japan 's sensitive agricultural sector and issues of intellectual property and the automotive sector.

Akira Amari, Japan's minister in charge of the negotiations remarked in recent meetings with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman that there is virtually zero possibility that Japan will roll over on its farm tariffs, despite calls from most of the 11 other TPP-member countries for it to do so.

For Biden's part, he indicated Tuesday that Tokyo may have to make some concessions on sectors it's seeking to protect and other TPP-member countries may be forced to make some "tough decisions" in the near future to ensure the process continues to move forward.

Abe and Biden on Tuesday also addressed the thorny issue of expediting the relocation of a controversial U.S. military base within Japan's southernmost prefecture of Okinawa, despite harsh local opposition to the idea, following ruling Liberal Democratic Party officials there promising in their election campaign to see the base relocated outside Okinawa, then backtracking on their promise, much to the chagrin of the locals and Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima.

In line with a previous Japan-U.S. accord, the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station will be relocated from the densely populated city of Ginowan, to the less-populated coastal region of Henoko in Nago as part of a broader realignment of U.S. forces in Japan and in a bid to ease the base-hosting burdens of Okinawa's citizens.

Abe said that following his talks with Biden, both countries will work together to promote the relocation of the Futenma base in a "resolute fashion."

Biden, who arrived in Tokyo on Monday night, also had an audience with Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako at the prince's residence in the Akasaka Estate, prior to holding talks with Abe.

He also held talks with Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, the head of the junior ruling coalition partner New Komeito Natsuo Yamaguchi, and opposition Democratic Party leader Banri Kaieda and other lawmakers earlier Tuesday.

Following talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, Biden will visit South Korea to hold talks with President Park Geun-hye on Friday, which will conclude the vice president's tour.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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