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Talk of the Day -- U.S., Japan draft contingency plan over Diaoyutais

Talk of the Day -- U.S., Japan draft contingency plan over Diaoyutais

Major local newspapers carried reports Thursday about discussions between U.S. and Japanese officials on contingency plans for retaking the disputed Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea if Chinese forces move to seize them. According to the reports, Japanese business daily Nikkei first reported the talks Wednesday, which immediately drew a strong reaction from China. Beijing's state-run Xinhua news agency said the Nikkei report was primarily aimed at instigating further tension between the two countries. Located some 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, the Diaoyutai Islands, known as Senkaku Islands in Japan, have been under Japan's administrative control since 1972, but are also claimed by Taiwan and China. The long simmering dispute has been escalating since last September when the Japanese government purchased three of the islets from their private owners to reinforce its sovereignty claim. In recent months, China repeatedly sent ships and even warplanes to waters around the Diaoyutais to back up its claim. Japan has alleged that a Chinese warship locked its radar on a Japanese destroyer in January this year. The following are excerpts from local media coverage of the Nikkei report on U.S.-Japan worst-case contingency plans for the Diaoyutais: China Times: Nikkei said in a Washington-datelined report that the United States and Japan will draft a joint warfare plan before this summer to cope with any contingencies in the Diaoyutai areas. It will mark the first time that the two countries has crafted a joint combat plan for worst-case scenarios related with an armed attack on Japanese territory, the Japanese daily said. The move demonstrates the two countries' determination to take concerted action in line with their mutual cooperation and security treaty to prevent China from escalating its provocation, Nikkei said. The paper further said Gen. Shigeru Iwasaki, chief of the Japanese Self Defense Forces Joint Staff, will meet with Adm. Samuel Locklear, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, in Hawaii to discuss details of the proposed contingency plan. In the past, the paper said, the two countries had drafted joint combat plans to cope with possible contingencies in Japan's neighboring areas such as the Korean Peninsula or the Taiwan Strait. According to those plans, Japan's self-defense forces tend to play a supportive role in helping U.S. forces. In the new plan, Japanese self-defense forces will fight hand-in-hand with their American counterparts against forces invading Japan's territorial waters or the Diaoyutai Islands, Nikkei said. (March 21, 2013). United Evening News: Nikkei said the proposed joint warfare plan will include guidelines to cope with Chinese naval fleets' actions in the Japanese territorial waters. The contingency plan will outline Japanese ports and thoroughfares to be used by American forces as well as supply and transportation of military goods and equipment for U.S. troops, the paper said. An AFP report quoted an unnamed U.S. official as saying Thursday that it was "natural" that the two governments would confer on emergency scenarios given recent tensions. A Pentagon official, who was also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the discussions on U.S.-Japan joint contingency planning, the AFP report said. Officially, the Pentagon would neither confirm nor deny whether the contingency plans were under discussion. "As a matter of policy, we do not discuss our military planning efforts," Lieutenant Colonel Catherine Wilkinson was quoted as having told AFP. In a faxed response to an AFP query, China's defense ministry said it had seen the Nikkei report and reiterated Beijing's stance that the islands belong to China. Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou has come up with an East China Sea Peace Initiative that calls for all claimants to shelve dispute, uphold peace and resolve issues through dialogue as well as cooperate in exploring resources in the Diaoyutai region. (March 21, 2013). (By Sofia Wu)