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Japan, U.S. differ on China in talks on 'gray zone' military threats

By Nobuhiro Kubo, Linda Sieg and Phil Stewart

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Washington takes no position on the sovereignty of the islands, called the Senkaku by Japan and the Diaoyu by China, but recognizes that Japan administers them and says they fall under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, which obligates America to come to Japan’s defense.

I never got how this does make sense.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

One fundamental problem for Abe's China policy is that he assumes that US is an enemy of China.

No, US is not an enemy of China. In fact, US is a friend, a partner.

Japan and US are good friends, an ally. But that doesn't exclude China being a friend to US. The tie between US and China is as important as that between Japan and US, if not more important.

The dispute between Japan and China should be viewed objectively, positively, historically, legally and peacefully.

Dispute doesn't mean a war; a war doesn't mean an involvement of ally militarily. In fact, best thing for a good ally to do is to calm down hot situation, to help ease tension, to find a middle ground solution.

Therefore, US has made a sane decision to reject Japan's extremely scenario. A good policy is universal rather than narrowly defined.

-5 ( +10 / -15 )

No, US is not an enemy of China. In fact, US is a friend, a partner.

The US must clear up its mind...One day it portaits China as an enemy, another as a friend. Of course, it's more the latter one, for economic reasons. It's natural that the US serve only their own interests, I'm sorry for poor Okinawa's people who suffered for all these years the presence of US army for nothing.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

It’s my sincere hope that after finishing reading this article, readers here would be able to get things straight and realize two core principles that has reshaped the relationship between Japan and the US: First and foremost, the US will try to use its political, diplomatic and military influences to detach itself from Japan’s long sought ambition - getting Americans involved in Senkakus islands militarily. Secondly, the US has been becoming more and more suspicious about Abe’s nationalistic agenda.

I am certainly there will still be someone who is living in a parallel universe, believing in a pipe-dream otherwise. Well that is fine, it's a free world. :)

0 ( +7 / -7 )

The U.S. has already been drawn into the Japan-China dispute. From China’s perspective, the U.S. continues to be part of problem, rather than part of the solution to the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute. We can expect to see China keeping heavy pressure on the U.S. in having to choose between Beijing and Tokyo. China is saying that Japan will be severely and permanently damage relations, with serious consequences in economic and commercial as well as political relations. In other words, major retaliation. What the retaliation will be, how severe and how permanent, which Japanese interests will be affected are now question. The uncertainty makes more ominous by the fact that there is no apparent end or solution to its cause.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

My concern over this is the lack of will power or resolve the US would have in order to abide by the treaty of helping Japan (irrespective of Abe's positions on nationalism). The US is heavily in debt to China, that is a fact, and they are by no means friends, and China has proven this with it's hacking of US systems and interest as well as theft of technologies and the like (which China takes from not only the US).

The world has been watching a weak US Administration on Foreign Policy and countries such as Russia having capitalised on this lack of resolve (remember the "red line" in Syria?). China also watches this and feels empowered, gone are the days of America showing it's might to deter enemies foreign and domestic (the latter being easiest to quell). Should China set foot on the Senkaku, I doubt the US would lift a finger to come to the aid, but at most just send a few warships in the area to keep the peace - if that.

The only thing that can deter the Chinese at this point would be a hit to their pocket books, but that goes for every major player in the global economy.

5 ( +8 / -3 )


You are too negative. China is not only a friend of US, but also a friend of Japan. The tension due to the dispute is not caused by China. If Japan handles the situation more diplomatically, more carefully, we will have a different scenario today. Having said that, Japan and China are still neighbours and friends. Japanese cars and other things are still welcome in China. There is no conflict even within the disputed area. Because the dispute, China has to do whatever she has to do to make her claim alive, so does Japan. Do you think that it is just by chance that there has been no shooting incident? No, both Abe and Xi are wise enough, cool enough to control the situation.

The relationship between Japan and China is normal and fine, the press makes it tense.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )


Secondly, the US has been becoming more and more suspicious about Abe’s nationalistic agenda.

The US is occuping Japan since the end of WWII...please, explain me how Japan could be a threat for the international community. Do you really believe Japan wants to invade Asia? Koizumi was maybe even more nationalistic than Abe, and the US never acted towards him like they are doing with Abe. Plus:

The update, which the two sides aim to wrap up by the end of the year, also follows years of Washington urging Japan to take on a bigger role in the alliance, the core of Tokyo’s post-war security policy.

So, the US is pushing for Japanese rearmament but at the same time it is suspicious...American nonsense and hypocrisy. You know, by Western standards, China is a dictatorship, but it's very strong both economically and militarily, so the US can't bully it like it did with Iraq and other minor countries for its personal interests. This is the only truth. It's also American fault if there's this dispute over the Senkaku (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senkaku_Islands :

The United States administered the islands as part of the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands from 1945 until 1972, when the islands reverted to Japanese control under the Okinawa Reversion Agreement between the United States and Japan.)

but now the US remains neutral, pretending it has not any responsability in this situation.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Problem for China is that U.S. will control most of the major oil fields in the world and the domestic energy demand in China will rise significantly in a decade where leaders of China will be forced to cooperate with U.S. By the year 2030, China will be importing 80 percent of their oil needs. Reality is China has lack of real allies. Real strategic alliance or friendship is not a commodity that can be bought and bartered casually. It is based on shared security interests, fortified with similar ideological values and enduring trust. China excels in "transactional diplomacy" romping around the world with its fat checkbook, supporting usually poor, isolated, and decrepit regimes like Angola and Sudan in return for favorable terms on natural resources or voting against Western sponsored resolutions criticizing China's human rights record. China will remain deprive of dependable strategic allies because of geography, ideology, and policy.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Some American people are only in denial, and they don't want to admit their country's power is fading away...This is why to them it will be more convenient to say "Japan is the Asian villain", even though Japanese foreign policy has always been driven by the US, so far, rather than the US is failing in its China containment policy.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

It reflects the community organizer's foreign policy. Japan must stand firm and be prepared to take action if needed to lead and the WH will follow. It might change after the next presidential election. The pattern exists from Syria's red line, Ukraine crisis, Afghanistan.. Wonder if the reset button was made in China?

3 ( +7 / -4 )

The fact is that I don't think China wants to invade other Asian countries, but it wishes they are included in her sphere of influence. Despite her hystorical conflicts with Japan, if the US left it, China would welcome Japan in her sphere of influence.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

Washington takes no position on the sovereignty of the islands, called the Senkaku by Japan and the Diaoyu by China, but recognizes that Japan administers them and says they fall under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, which obligates America to come to Japan's defense.

But even as Asia-Pacific security tensions mount, U.S. officials have made clear they do not want to get pulled into a conflict between the world's second- and third-biggest economies.

Does anyone still remember why Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990?

American diplomats repeatedly said to Saddam Hussein that America does not take sides with regard to disputes between Kuwait and Iraq, until he was convinced the US would stay neutral even after the invasion. Sending wrong signal will result in a costly war.

The lesson of the Iraq Kuwait War would be the policy of "not taking sides" will likely result in an unwanted situation which could have been easily avoided if you took sides.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

"included in her sphere of influence" sounds...pretty damn controlling if you ask me... Whatever you call it, invasion, encroaching, overstepping boundaries, intrude, infringe, trespass, taunt,muscle in, bully...I could go on, but I think we get the picture. China, IT is definitely not playing nice with its "Sphere of Influence.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Alex80Mar. 12, 2014 - 09:49AM JST

China would welcome Japan in her sphere of influence.

Tibet, Uyghur, Inner Mongolia, North Korea. Welcome to Chinese shpere of influence.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

China, IT is definitely not playing nice with its "Sphere of Influence.

It's not matter of being "nice", but I don't think China would invade Japan or other Asian countries, if the US abandoned Asia. China wants her hegemonic place back, that's all, and economic power is enough to get hegemony. But the US bases in Asia threat her interests and security.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

By not being specific in the matter, US is weakening Japan's position and emboldening China. The US needs to grow a pair, or at least act like it has, and deal with China before they get too aggressive. If the US is really an ally of Japan, then they need to be more decisive in these scenarios and actually show support. Otherwise, China is going to take a leaf out of Russia's book and invade the Senkaku islands, and from there, the rest of the Japanese islands. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, this all comes down to money, and since China is the more profitable option, the US will stand aside. Great way to show your friendship: let your friend get pummelled by an aggressive yet financially beneficial bully. That's the US in a nutshell really. Oh well. Japan will just have to rely upon its superior Navy and airforce to deal with China should the two come to blows. It'll be the same outcome in the long run, but that's the problem: it'll be a very long run.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Alex80Mar. 12, 2014 - 10:37AM JST

but I don't think China would invade Japan or other Asian countries,

Wow. China sends armed boats to the Japanese territorial water of Senkakus almost every day. This is nothing but invasion.

Chinese military has occupied islands claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea. This is nothing but invasion.

China invaded India in 1962, Russia in 1969 and Vietnam in 1979. These are nothing but invasion.

China supports the puppet government in North Korea, where the communist party suppresses the people into starvation. China supported the puppet communist regime of the Pol Pot in Cambodia which is responsible of the killing of millions of innocent people known as the "killing field".

China invades neighbors directly or indirectly.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

The key point is that the US and Japan are in active and ongoing discussions about how to deal with the Chinese Problem. This is a good sign.

It's early days, people. In case you didn't notice, more than 1000 Japanese troops at a time are regularly flying in to California for live-fire training with the US Marines (with an emphasis on retaking islands, btw.)


Meanwhile, our fearless leader, ABE-48, is busy with plans to create a Japanese Marine Corps of his own, and the US Marines in Okinawa aren't leaving for another 25 years in the least. The US already showed its commitment to maintain open international waterways when it, along with Japan and South Korea, flew planes into areas China now claims with no prior notification. And whether you can see the results or not, US defensive policy is indeed gradually pivoting towards Asia, as China understands full-well.

In other words, the policy known as "collective self-defense" and the rational, methodical, and multinational containment of China's destabilizing dreams of military hegemony in Asia is moving along just fine, thanks...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So is the US trying to sit on the fence?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

People can make all the excuses they wish for China, but no excuse changes the fact that China has become an aggressive power and is still in the same mindset of the great leap forward, willing to risk everything and anything for that same outlook....POWER and DOMINATION! I am hoping investments will start being pulled out of CHina and China is put back in its rightfully deserved place which is being an isolated state with no resources to continue its aggression against the WORLD!

5 ( +7 / -2 )


t's not matter of being "nice", but I don't think China would invade Japan or other Asian countries, if the US abandoned Asia. China wants her hegemonic place back, that's all, and economic power is enough to get hegemony. But the US bases in Asia threat her interests and security.

Haha, so, while Japan was half of century a second economic power, they didnt realised that, but now, when China is second economy power, she got a right for hegemonic ruling ? I hope rest of the Asian countries will see it as you see it, and organize mutual protection from China , because China isnt democratic country, its rulled by the one party system, who also employ censorship in internet and communications with the rest of the world .

The main problem of China is the way how their totalitarian politicians think ,and their fantasy of restoring China as Asian empire , but lets look , what they invent ? As I see, what they only invent are new weapons, and thats all, what China makes really for world ? Pure Chinese firms are all second or third grade super cheap electronic appliance , so today China actually exist because of thousands of western factories on their soil . But also, that made west hugely dependable on China production of western products .

And for Senkaku, I recomend JDSF to declare that military zone , totally of limit for all civilians, under the threat of being shot, and also, deploying mines on that island , and around that, so, I ask you, what so called " civilian" would doing there , if this would apply ?

For those who dont know the importance of Senkaku for Japan, its simple, look how far is China next territory, , having control of Senkaku is also making China much closer to the Japan , and that would jeopardize security of Japan , and the rest of the islands in that area , Senkaku is beginning of islands that stretch all to the Japan .

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The US is not trying to sit on the fence Japan is trying to play chicken and see how far they can go over the barb wire. If the US provide scenarios of how they will respond Japan would know just how far they can go to continue to play the cat and mouse game! At some point it needs to stop.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Let me translate what the "Grey Zone" really is:

It's often coined as "The Status Quo".

The Status Quo in Asia, is the Economical & Geopolical status that had been in place in Asia since WW2.

Currently The United States are the retainers of The Status Quo and the U.S. wants the Status Quo to remain in place & as it is, because it allows the U.S. to continue trade surpluses with Communist China while within keeping U.S. Military Bases in the Asian Region i.e. Japan & South Korea.

Communist China wants to change the Status Quo because by changing or deflating the Status Quo will allow China to further their expansion of economic territory throughout the Region and eventually push the U.S. Military out of Asia

Who would this impact? Everyone who breaths Clean Air!

Japan & South Korea and the rest of Asia are steadfast to retain their territories, however, China is also steadfast at aquirimg more land & wealth from their Asian Neighbors with Ancient Maps, ADIZ's, Fishing Zones, & Redesigned Maps in their Passports in order to advance their Economic & Political Agenda - Hence change the Status Quo.

The Senkakku Islands & The Spratley Islands all have vital resources that China needs in order to advance their Power. Will they acquire them? That depends on the attitude of Washington.

Nobody wants to give up what's been theirs for Centuries, yet China has more than just the Moon on their radar and if China wants it then they expect neighboring countries to just give it up without any economic bennefit from the country that is being incurred upon by Communist China.

Sooner more than later, if the U.S. doesn't start making ultimatums towards China, then the U.S. is certainly going to drop the Ham Sandwich with the Status Quo.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is a different Japan as of late.... they're actually more aggressive than the USA and want a harder stance from them.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

he dispute between Japan and China should be viewed objectively, positively, historically, legally and peacefully.>

But there is no dispute. The island belongs to Japan.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

It is totally Abe fault starting up the tensions by denying history, worhsipped the ghostly Shrine, increase military spending even under US protection. Don’t forget this liar Abe crying in loud voice to the world that China spending double digit on military spending but comparsion in 2013, Japan military spending is 36% of China and China is 24% of US. This liar Abe is acting like his uncles in the imperial Japan army. Always lying.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Wait what? Given the overwhelming complaints about American hegemony and over-reaction in other areas seeing America take a more nuanced approach is bad? It's only just starting, vis military budget cutbacks, but if we're seeing the first steps toward an America that doesn't jump first and ask questions later, wouldn't this be a logical extension of that? Isn't that a good thing?

I have no illusions about America projecting its power; no naivete about the whys or wherefors - nor the hyperbole, the politics, the vested interests, the hypocrisy, etc. but isn't a less overweening America what everyone wants? Aren't American ultimatums and line-drawing things people hate?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Is there any such possibility as "a full scale attack on Japan" as this article says? In other words, is there any possibility for a potential enemy launching an attack on a Japanese city without first attacking U.S. bases in Japan -- such as represented by Kadena, Yokota or Misawa Air Bases? "A full scale attack on Japan" then means a full scale attack on U.S. bases in Japan. Only in such cases will the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty be activated fully, they say?

They are talking about gray zone cases involving the Senkaku Islands. Call this the second category.

But there is the third category which these negotiators seem to be oblivious of. And that's a war fought in a foreign country far from Japan using bases in Japan as important staging posts. Would it be possible for the U.S. military to deploy and train troops in Japan for such purposes?

It seems that these negotiators are negotiating nonsense at the best.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In a surprise landing of Chinese troops on Senkaku Islands, the US will not go to war with China. Japan will be told to use diplomatic negotiation to settle the matter. We all know results of diplomatic negotiations on the Northern Islands. So Mr. Abe need to place a lighthouse and a small outpost for the Japan Coast Guard and put some people on those rocky isles. Any landings by the Chinese will then constitute an invasion.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What my posting above boils down to is this: What is the meaning of us Okinawans hosting the bulk of excessive U.S. bases? As Alex80 (Mar. 12, 2014 - 08:25AM JST) correctly pointed out, Okinawa has suffered all these 69 years way too much for too little or for nothing.

To sum up, the Futenma-to-Henoko relocation plan must be prevented by all means all the more.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The line that China uses to claim the Senkaku/Daioyu Islands is, “this land has been an integral and inalienable part of China since ancient times and we will not allow a separation of the Chinese state.” That line is the official reason for China’s military occupation of Tibet today and their invasion in 1959. It’s the same line they use today in the Senkaku/Daioyu Islands. And it’s the same line they’ll use when they finally decide to invade Taiwan or Okinawa. Now, I’m not denying that China had nothing to do with the Senkaku/Daioyu Islands since ancient history. But the apparent justification China uses for an “integral and inalienable part of China” is “whenever it shows up in Chinese history.” At various parts in its history, one dynasty or another has controlled land in Russia, Korea, Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Burma, Vietnam, Laos, the Philippines, Taiwan, and even Japan. Even for Mexico, they can claim California and Texas from U.S. if you follow China's justification.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The opinions of occupier and the the occupied differ. Is this a surprise? Why do you suppose Abe is trying to "take back Japan". Take back from who? Who owns Japan now? US, of course, who else? That's his unspoken goal, unspoken but well understood by the strategists of all the countries involved. The Chinese and Koreans express dissatisfaction about US tolerance of Abe's behavior, but secretly they know they need the US to keep Japan on the leash. In fact the US is the only country that can control Japan, and is the only country that has beat up Japan real good in its entire history.

What do you think what Biden/Kerry/Hagle say to the Chinese and Koreans when they apply "pressure" to them? Work with me so I can contain Japan! This is the only argument both countries can understand and believe. Because it is true!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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