Japan Tells China It Opposes Unilateral Attempts to Alter Status Quo in East China Sea

By Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.
December 28, 2021 Updated: December 28, 2021

Japan’s Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe via video conference on Monday, conveying Japan’s opposition to unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea by coercion.

Kishi voiced concerns about the situation in the East China Sea, particularly the Senkaku Islands where China has been making repeated intrusions, urging China to “self-restraint,” according to the Japanese Defense Ministry.

The Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea have mostly been administered by Japan since 1895, but Beijing began asserting its rights over the islands in the 1970s. In China, the islands are called the Diaoyu Islands.

Japan has strongly protested repeated intrusions by Chinese vessels into the seas for decades. On Nov. 19, four Chinese ships reportedly entered Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands, the 37th case of Chinese patrol vessels entered into the territorial waters of Japan this year.

Wei told Kishi that China would “firmly safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests” in Senkaku Islands. He also emphasized the need for both countries to make joint efforts to maintain stability in the East China Sea, according to the Chinese Defense Ministry.

Japan must face history squarely and learn from history, and this is the correct attitude and wise choice, Wei said.

The discussion also covered the importance of stability in the Taiwan Strait, where tensions between the self-ruled island of Taiwan and China have been rising. China claims the democratically-elected country as part of its territory and has threatened to bring the island under its control by force if necessary.

Wei pointed out that China and Japan should “strengthen high-level exchanges” and “jointly control risks” to prevent escalation of conflicts between the two countries.

The two ministers have also agreed to start operating a hotline between their defense officials by the end of next year.

“We confirmed that the early establishment of a hotline between Japanese and Chinese defense authorities is important,” Kishi told reporters after the video conference, reported Kyodo News.

Last month, Japan held a drill on uninhabited Tsutara Island in Goto, Nagasaki prefecture, under the assumption that foreign forces had taken over the Senkaku Islands, reported Kyodo News, citing several government sources.

The two-day drill, which involved the Self-Defence Forces, coastguard, and police, was not “intended for a specific island or a country” but rather to improve Japan’s response to emergency situations in the country’s island areas, the government said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.