The United States is not neutral on the issue of the Senkaku Islands due to its responsibilities for their defense under a security treaty with Japan, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has said.
?We?re not neutral when our ally is a victim of coercion or aggression or intimidation,? Armitage said in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, referring to Japan.
Armitage, who together with other former U.S. officials visited Japan and China in October, said his group had to overcome some misunderstandings in Beijing over the fact that the United States has not announced its position on the question of sovereignty of the islands.
?They would say, ?We appreciate your neutrality,? and we [would say], ?We?re not neutral. We just haven?t declared one way or the other,?? he told the paper.
Welcoming what he sees as recent easing in Sino-Japanese tensions, Armitage said a more permanent solution will have to wait until next year, after the Dec. 16 House of Representatives election in Japan and the completion of China?s leadership transition in March.
?From now to then, I think the best we can do is to keep a lid on it and keep people calm and rational,? he said.
On Liberal Democratic Party leader Shinzo Abe, tipped to be Japan?s next prime minister, Armitage said Abe may not be as much of a right-wing hawk in office as he is sometimes portrayed, according to the daily.
He noted that Abe chose not to visit Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo during his previous term as prime minister.
?Although he came in to the previous prime minister job with a reputation for great conservatism, he actually governed quite pragmatically, and I look forward to that,? Armitage said.
WASHINGTON (Jiji Press)
(Dec. 3, 2012)