Abe, Biden reaffirm to strengthen cooperation over China air zone

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in a teleconference Thursday reaffirmed that the two countries will strengthen cooperation in addressing China's air defense identification zone, according to a Japanese official and the White House.

Biden notified Abe that he told Chinese President Xi Jinping in a recent meeting in Beijing that China's establishment of the ADIZ is unacceptable, according to the official.

The vice president reaffirmed that the announcement of the ADIZ "will in no way affect U.S. operations in the East China Sea," the White House said.

Biden also reinforced the importance of trilateral security cooperation among the United States, Japan and South Korea, and noted Washington's continued support for improved relations between Tokyo and Seoul, the White House said.

Biden quoted South Korean President Park Geun Hye as having told him in their talks in Seoul that it would not go well if she were to meet Abe for talks at the present time, according to the Japanese official.

The White House also said Biden and Abe agreed on the importance of resolving sensitive issues in negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact, including on agricultural products and automobiles, and concluding the negotiations as soon as possible.

Abe and Biden, who met last week on the first leg of the U.S. vice president's visits to Japan, China and South Korea, spoke for roughly an hour in the teleconference requested by the United States, according to the official.

Among Japanese officials present at the talks were Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, and the Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau head Junichi Ihara and North American Affairs Bureau head Koji Tomita.

The Japanese and U.S. governments have strongly reacted to the Chinese establishment without prior consultation of an ADIZ overlapping such zones operated by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

The move also stirred controversy as the ADIZ covers the Japan-controlled Senkaku islets that China claims. The United States refrains from taking sides in the territorial dispute but its security treaty with Japan covers the area.

Bilateral relations between Japan and South Korea have also been strained due to another territorial dispute and historical issues related to the Japanese colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula before and during World War II.