* Biden says will raise concerns directly with Chinese
* Biden seeks better Japan-China cooperation, better Tokyo
ties with Seoul
* Japan, U.S. agree won't tolerate threat to civil air
* Biden says U.S. fully committed to Asian "rebalancing"
By Stanley White and Elaine Lies
TOKYO, Dec 3 U.S. Vice President Joe Biden
called on Japan and China to find ways to reduce tensions that
spiked after Beijing proclaimed an air defence zone over
disputed isles in the East China Sea, while repeating Washington
was "deeply concerned" by the move.
The United States has made clear it will stand by treaty
obligations that require it to defend the Japanese-controlled
islands, but it is also reluctant to get dragged into any
military clash between the Asian rivals.
"This action has raised regional tensions and increased the
risk of accidents and miscalculation," Biden told a news
conference alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
"This underscores the need for crisis management mechanisms
and effective channels of communication between China and Japan
to reduce the risk of escalation."
He said he would raise U.S. concerns directly when he met
Biden was on the first leg of an Asian trip that takes him
to Beijing on Wednesday and then to Seoul.
Biden also called for better ties between Washington's Asian
allies Tokyo and Seoul, chilled in recent months due in part to
bitter South Korean memories of the 1910-1945 Japanese
colonisation of the Korean peninsula.
Japan reiterated on Tuesday that Tokyo and Washington had
both rejected Beijing's establishment of the zone - despite the
fact that three U.S. airlines, acting on government advice, are
notifying China of plans to transit the area.
"We reaffirmed that policies and measures of both our
countries, including the operations of the (Japanese)
Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces, will not change and we will
closely cooperate," Abe told the news conference.
"We agreed that we will will not condone any actions that
threaten the safety of civilian aircraft."
Washington said over the weekend that the advice to U.S.
airlines did not mean U.S. acceptance of the zone, and last week
it sent two B-52 bombers into the area without informing China.
U.S. COMMITTED TO "REBALANCING" TO ASIA
Washington is also asking China not to set up an air defence
zone in the South China Sea, where Beijing is locked in
territorial rows with Southeast Asian nations, without first
consulting countries concerned, a senior official travelling
with Biden told reporters, according to Kyodo news agency.
The Japanese and South Korean governments have advised their
airlines not to submit flight plans in advance as demanded from
all aircraft since it announced the creation of the zone on Nov.
Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings, however,
are uneasy about flying through the zone without notifying
China's civil aviation authorities, two sources familiar with
the Japanese carriers' thinking told Reuters.
U.S., Japanese and South Korean military aircraft all
breached the zone last week without informing Beijing and China
later scrambled fighters into the area.
Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said
China's request for flight plans was good for aviation safety.
"A small number of countries' resolute refusal to report is
not beneficial, and is an irresponsible display," Geng said in a
statement on the ministry's website. "The East China Sea Air
Defence Identification Zone is a safe, not risky zone, a zone of
cooperation not confrontation."
In an English-language commentary, China's offcial Xinhua
news agency said Washington's desire to "shore up its little
brother" (Japan) was somewhat understandable.
But it added: "Yet when Tokyo keeps pissing off almost
everybody in the region by its attitude toward its wartime
history, it would ultimately cost the United States more than it
would gain from backing a country that still honours those whose
hands were red with American blood."
Washington takes no position on the sovereignty of the
disputed islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu
in China. However, it recognises Tokyo's administrative control
and says the U.S.-Japan security pact applies to them.
Biden also said Washington was "fully committed" to its
strategy of "rebalancing" to Asia, dismissing doubts in Japan
and elsewhere in the region over whether the United States has
the resources to carry out that strategy given its fiscal woes,
its attention on the Middle East, and partisan battles at home.