Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera yesterday called on the international community to oppose China’s recently declared maritime air defense zone over the East China Sea and possibly over the disputed South China Sea.
Onodera discussed Tokyo’s concern over Beijing’s action separately with Philippine Secretary of Defense Voltaire Gazmin and Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julia Bishop.
Separately, Onodera and Bishop also visited central Tacloban City, which was ruined by Typhoon Haiyan last month.
In his meeting with Bishop, Onodera said he mentioned that the international community “should meet to deal with this matter together” and that any unilateral action by coercive means should be opposed.
“If any country would establish a similar air zone in the South China Sea, that would bring up tension in the region and I mentioned that should be stopped,” he told reporters in Tacloban, where he visited a school serving as a shelter for villagers who lost their homes in the Nov. 8 typhoon.
He said that the issue should be resolved by dialogue.
The US, Australia, South Korea and other countries have also expressed alarm over China’s new air identification zone.
Onodera said that China’s unilateral action violates the spirit of the International Civil Aviation Organization treaty.
Meanwhile, three Chinese ships entered disputed waters off Tokyo-controlled islands in the East China Sea yesterday, the Japanese Coast Guard said, the first such incident since Beijing announced an air defense identification zone in the area last month.
The vessels entered the 12 nautical mile (22.2km) territorial waters at about 9am off one of the Senkaku Islands, the Japan Coast Guard said.
Taiwan and China also claimthe islands, which they call the -Diaoyutais (釣魚台) and the Diaoyu Archipelago (釣魚群島) respectively.
The Chinese ships left the area shortly after noon.
It was the first time that Chinese coastguard ships had been spotted sailing through the waters since Beijing raised regional tensions with its declaration of the zone last month.
Chinese vessels have sailed in and out of contiguous waters around the islands, but stayed away from entering territorial waters since Nov. 22, a Japanese coastguard official said.
Additional reporting by AFP