Abe: Japan acting calmly in island dispute with China

WASHINGTON Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:58pm EST

1 of 2. U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, February 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday said he told President Barack Obama in a meeting that Japan would act calmly in its row with China over tiny islands in the East China Sea claimed by both Asian countries.

"I explained that we have always been dealing with this issue ... in a calm manner," he said through a translator, while sitting next to Obama in the White House Oval Office.

"We will continue to do so and we have always done so," he said.

Tension has raised fears of an unintended military incident near the islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. Washington says the islets fall under a U.S.-Japan security pact, but it is eager to avoid a clash in the region.

Abe said the existence of the Japan-U.S. alliance was a stabilizing factor in the area.

"We agreed that we would stay in close coordination with each other in dealing with such issues and other issues," he said.

Obama, in his remarks to reporters, said Japan was one of the United States' closest allies. He said the two men would discuss trade and other economic issues and agreed that their top priority was economic growth.

Obama declined to answer a reporter's question on whether they would discuss the Japanese yen.

Expectations for Abe's economic programs, especially monetary easing, have cut some 10 percent off the yen's value against the U.S. dollar since Abe took office, raising concern that Japan is weakening its currency to export its way out of recession.

Obama and Abe also discussed North Korea and agreed to cooperate at the United Nations over the issue. Abe said the two men also talked about additional sanctions against North Korea, which tested a nuclear bomb last week in defiance of U.N. resolutions.

(Editing by Vicki Allen)

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Comments (7)
mgunn wrote:
Act calmly?? While the chinese apparently overreacted, the islands were already under effective control of the Japanese all along. The whole thing that started this was a right-winger (Ishihara) pushing for the purchase of the islands precisely as a provocative gesture, even though the Japanese already control it.

Feb 22, 2013 11:32pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Kailim wrote:
The decision to handover administrative rights of Diaoyu Islands to Japan, but not specifically ceding sovereignty, was purely out of cold war consideration by the US in the 70s. At that time the US had not much choice as she did not feel comfortable with Republic Of China, and she regarded People’s Repiblic Of China as an adversary. I believe that is the reason why Obama does not mention this dispute; not just trying not to provoking China but has no solid rationale to supporting Japan. Therefore Abe has to act calmly without Obama’s shoring up.

Anyway Abe gains economically by having Obama’s tacit approval for currency manipulation in order to export more to the US. The trade deficits of the US will certainly be deepened. Not just by allowing more Japanese imports, but weakening the grounds of accusing China for maintaining a low RMB. It is a pity that the US will be losing the trade war at both fronts.

Duplicity hurts your own nation, Mr. Obama.

Feb 23, 2013 1:26am EST  --  Report as abuse
Kailim wrote:
There are many comments here suggesting us to forget the Japanese atrocities done to us long long time ago. In fact I agree wholeheartedly. Hatred will do us no better future. We should seek harmony with everyone.

However Japanese government’s ongoing efforts to distorting their history textbooks and denial of their atrocities simply request us to never forget the past.

Abulafiah have just reminded us that there was a treaty, the Treaty of Shimonoseki, signed by us at gun point in 1895. We ceded not only Diaoyu Islands but also Taiwan and Penghu to Japan by that treaty.

Prior to the Treaty of Shimonoseki, we ceded Hongkong to the UK by the Treaty of Nanking. Nowadays we have Hongkong returned to us. But that is not enough. We must carry on to recover all territories ceded to other nations by unequal treaties being forced at gun point. Thanks Abulafiah for your reminder.

Feb 24, 2013 8:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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