Japan warns PH on ‘ADIZ’

China zone in WPH seen to heighten tension
Japan’s top defense official warned on Saturday that China’s plan to establish an Air Defense Identification Zone in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) would trigger more tension in the region.

DEFENSE MODE . Philippines’ Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin (right) and his Japanese counterpart Minister  Itsunori Onodera meet at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Saturday. MANNY PALMERO
Moments after meeting with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin in Camp Aquinaldo, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera expressed his concern that an ADIZ over the disputed territories in the WPS would create tension similar to the tension now being felt between China and Japan in the East China Sea.

“If a new ADIZ will be set up the South China Sea, I think the government of Japan needs to express the same concern that we had over at the East China Sea,” Onodera said.

“On this matter, both of us (Japan and the Philippines) share the view that unilateral establishment and announcement of such ADIZ would bring tension to regional security, therefore the government of the Philippine side should also express concerned over this,” he added.

Onodera and Gazmin discussed the current environment in Eastern China affecting Japan’s security after China flew fighter jets at an uninhabited island claimed by Japan, which angered Tokyo and added to the tension between the two countries.

“Any unilateral establishment of ADIZ in any area would bring tension over the area, therefore we have concerns over such development,” Onodera said.

With an ADIZ in place, Beijing has demanded all commercial flights going through the zone to submit their flight plans in advance.

Onodera said China’s procedure violates the spirit of international treaty that requires affected countries to discuss the issue within an international framework.

Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines all expressed concern over China’s posturing, but Onedera said the United States and other European countries also expressed similar apprehensions.

“The United States, South Korea, Taiwan and EU and other countries are expressing strong concern over this. What’s important is that the international community has expressed its strong message toward China,” Onodera said.

In response to China’s ADIZ, South Korea, which is situated near Eastern China, said it may also establish its own ADIZ system.

Onodera said, however, that he hopes that the security concerns over China’s ADIZ would be addressed diplomatically between Tokyo and Beijing.

He, however, suggested a stronger security cooperation between Japan and Philippines.

“The two of us (Onodera and Gazmin) agreed that we would expand and deepen our cooperation on defense matters,” Onodera said.

Meanwhile, experts over in Washington said the Obama administration has put a priority on preventing an escalation of tension after China declared its ADIZ.

Vice President Joe Biden met Wednesday for more than five hours with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and later reported that he told the Chinese leader that “We do not recognize the zone. It will have no effect on American operations. Just ask my general—none, zero.”

The US, however, has not explicitly called on China to rescind the zone and instead has called on China to set up an emergency hotline with Japan to prevent a mishap between the world’s two largest economies.

“The possibility of miscalculation—mistake—is real and could have profound consequences for your generation,” Biden said Friday at Yonsei University in Seoul.

Japan administers the tiny Senkaku islands, which China calls the Diaoyu and links to Tokyo’s imperialist past.

Japan’s conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has vowed no compromise on sovereignty and stepped up defense spending, believing that China is trying to change the status quo through growing sea incursions.

Several US-based experts suspected that China had goals beyond its row with Japan. China, which has been ramping up military spending over its past decade of strong economic growth, also has tussled with the Philippines and Vietnam over maritime territories.

The United States, while insisting it does not take sides on sovereignty disputes, has said that the islands in the East China Sea are under Tokyo’s management and hence come under a security treaty in which it is required to defend officially pacifist Japan against attack.

With several nations concerned about China’s rise, Obama has declared Asia to be a top priority and shifted naval resources there, although the United States is also reducing military spending—which is more than four times China’s official level—to tame a debt from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a recession. With AFP


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