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Japan's Shinzo Abe to raise Senkaku Islands issue during U.S. visit

The Japanese leader is seeking a consensus on joint defense cooperation on the disputed territory.

By
Elizabeth Shim
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Spindler briefs Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and Defense Minister Tomomi Inada in Hawaii in December. Abe is to hold a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump this month. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Kathrine Dodd/Department of Defense
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Spindler briefs Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and Defense Minister Tomomi Inada in Hawaii in December. Abe is to hold a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump this month. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Kathrine Dodd/Department of Defense

Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may be planning to raise the issue of the disputed Senkaku Islands with U.S. President Donald Trump in an upcoming summit in Washington, D.C.

Tokyo's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Thursday the Japanese government plans to receive confirmation from the United States of its commitment to defend Japan in accordance with Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.

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Article 5 states that an armed attack against either Japan or the United States would be confronted jointly "in accordance with constitutional provisions and processes."

Abe is seeking a consensus on the clause, and its applicability to potential attacks against the Senkakus, also known as the Diaoyutai Islands in China.

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More ships of Chinese origin are sailing in the waters surrounding the disputed territory, since the Japanese government nationalized three of the five uninhabited islands in 2012.

A total of 121 Chinese vessels sailed near the disputed islands without Japan's permission in 2016.

Beijing also dispatched 10 strategic bombers and other military aircraft into airspace claimed by Japan and South Korea on Jan. 9, South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported.

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Suga said the defense cooperation on the Senkakus will be confirmed on Friday during U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis' visit to Tokyo.

On Tuesday, Abe had told Japan's House of Representatives' budget committee that Article 5 of the treaty is "very important" and that he intends to reconfirm U.S. military commitment during the summit, to be held on Feb. 10.

A joint statement that was issued after the United States and Japan held summit talks in 2014, confirming defense cooperation on the Senkaku Islands, generated strong opposition from China, according to the JoongAng.

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