Japan and the United States do not differ on their stance toward the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, the government's top spokesman said Monday, after U.S. President Barack Obama asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to deescalate its territorial dispute that Tokyo says does not exist.
"There's nothing (different) at all," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference when asked if there was a gap between Japan and the United States in their takes on the issue.
"The United States has been consistently calling for dialogue (to address the issue) and Japan has maintained there is no territorial dispute. Both legally and historically," Suga said.
Suga repeated Tokyo's argument that the islands were returned from the United States under the San Francisco Peace Treaty and Washington also recognizes it.
During their weekend summit meeting in California, Obama was quoted as telling Xi that "the parties should seek to deescalate, not escalate" the dispute over the islands and "to have conversations about this through diplomatic channels and not through actions out of the East China Sea."
Chinese ships have been entering Japanese territorial waters near the islands since Japan last year purchased parts of the islets administered by Japan but claimed by China.
On Sunday night, three Chinese maritime surveillance vessels were seen sailing near the territorial waters around the Senkakus, the Japan Coast Guard said Monday.
At the weekend meeting, Xi told Obama that China will resolutely protect the integrity of its sovereignty and territory.
The United States has said its security treaty with Japan covers the area surrounding the Senkakus.
Suga said Japan welcomes the United States and China working together as it will contribute to global peace and stability, but expressed hope Beijing will stick to "mutually beneficial" relations agreed on with Tokyo.
"We'd like to ask (the Chinese side) to prevent individual issues from affecting our relations as a whole, and return to the basics of mutually beneficial relations," Suga said.