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US-Japan plan to retake islands not true: Washington

By Zhang Yunbi | China Daily | Updated: 2013-11-02 07:20

Washington has made a clarification to Beijing to dismiss a Japanese media report on a so-called US-Japan joint combat plan for "retaking" China's Diaoyu Islands, the Foreign Ministry confirmed on Friday.

The Japanese government has failed in its latest attempt to intimidate China by fabricating a powerful military support from its traditional ally over the islands dispute, analysts said.

Japanese leading newspaper Nikkei Business Daily quoted an unnamed source of the US defense authorities on Oct 25 that the US and Japanese governments have designed a joint combat plan to deal with the emergent scenario that China seizes the Diaoyu Islands.

However, "Beijing has taken notice of relevant reports, and Washington has made a clarification to Beijing, saying that the reports of relevant Japanese media were not in accordance with fact", Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a news conference on Friday in Beijing.

The Japanese news report even claimed that the combat plan elaborated on how the US army will participate in the retaking operation.

Hua suggested that the US side is available for further details in this regard.

Yang Bojiang, deputy director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Washington is unwilling to see Japan making trouble over territorial issues with its neighbors.

"The provocations by the Japanese side will definitely give rise to regional tension, and even a possible crisis spiraling out of control.

"When it comes to the worst scenario, it will be a great dilemma for Washington to choose between Japan and China," Yang said.

In the past year, Tokyo has frequently mentioned the islands issue in dialogue between the defense authorities of the US and Japan.

In addition to four amphibious vehicles covered by the budget for fiscal year 2013, Japan's Defense Ministry is considering buying two more vehicles with command functions in the next fiscal year and more in fiscal 2015 and beyond, mainly for remote island defense, Kyodo News Agency reported.

Tension between China and Japan further flared after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made hostile comments about China last weekend.

Abe told The Wall Street Journal on Saturday and Japanese troops on Sunday that Japan would not "tolerate the use of force to change the region's status quo".

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera added fuel to the fire on Tuesday, saying Beijing was "jeopardizing peace" with its "intrusions" near the Diaoyu Islands.

On Friday, the Japanese armed forces started a massive joint military drill on retaking the islands in southwestern Japan, local media reported.

Kyodo said the drill, grouping elites from the Japanese Ground, Marine, and Air Self-Defense Forces, will finish on Nov 18 and may upset Japan's neighbors "including China".

The main site of the drill was located in unmanned remote islands in the Pacific Ocean. The drill was allowed to use an island which has been intended for firing practice by the US Marines, according to the Friday report of the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper in Okinawa Prefecture.

Amphibious hovercraft will be deployed in an intensive islands retaking drill. Fighter jets will also conduct firing practice.

Li Jie, a senior expert at the Naval Military Studies Research Institute of the People's Liberation Army, said Washington and the US army are partly responsible for Japan's increasingly provocative position over the islands issue.

"Washington has turned a blind eye and even given unseen support to Tokyo," Li said.

Another influential local newspaper, Okinawa Times, criticized Tokyo's desire to seek military confrontation with China, saying it will not help find a final resolution of the dispute.

Japanese defense policies have focused on "China's threat" and "the integration of Japan and the US", which is running against the efforts for reducing the burden on the Okinawa Prefecture, the newspaper commented.


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