Japan defense minister back to discuss regional tensions

MANILA, Philippines – Japan highlighted the need for a peaceful resolution of the regional conflict as various countries expressed concern over China's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) established over Japan-controlled islands in the East China Sea.

"I think the world shares the same understanding that the regional tension should not be raised by the course of action," Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters in Manila on Saturday, December 7. 

"What's important is for the international community or society to [send] a strong message [to] China," Onodera added.

Onodera is back in the Philippines after visiting last June. He met with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to discuss China's ADIZ and the growing tension in the region, Japan's assistance to Typhoon Yolanda victims, and deeper military-to-military cooperation between the two countries. (READ: Japan vows to help PH amid China sea row. )

The Philippines joined the US, European Union, South Korea, and Taiwan, among other countries, in criticizing China's unilateral establishment of the ADIZ. It wants foreign aircraft to provide a flight plan if they want to fly over the disputed area. (READ: US forces operating 'normally' in China air zone and Japan, South Korea defy Chinese air zone)

ADIZ in West Philippine Sea?

Onodera said they are also concerned about reports China will also establish a similar ADIZ in the West Philippine Sea, where the Philippines and China are involved in a bitter territorial dispute. 

Gazmin shared the sentiment but at the same time downplayed the possibility of China setting up another ADIZ. Gazmin said it was "speculative at this point."

Onodera however reiterated, "Any unilateral establishment of ADIZ in any area would bring up tension over the area. Therefore, we have concerns over such development." – Rappler.com