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Japan, US to express concern over China's coast guard law

This Sept. 10, 2013 file photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun airplane shows China Coast Guard vessels near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan and the United States plan to express their concern over the new Chinese law that authorizes use of force by its coast guard in contested waters when their foreign and defense ministers meet next week, government sources said Thursday.

    It is rare for the allies to name and criticize a third country in a joint statement. The law took effect last month, enabling the Chinese coast guard to fire upon vessels around the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which are claimed by Beijing.

    The ministers are expected to reconfirm that the Senkakus are subject to the bilateral security treaty, which stipulates defense obligations by the United States, according to the Japanese sources. China has been increasing its maritime assertiveness in the East and South China seas.

    At the so-called two-plus-two meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi will hold talks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

    Since the law took effect, China has intensified its provocative acts around the Senkakus by repeatedly dispatching coast guard vessels, occasionally entering Japanese territorial waters near the uninhabited islands, which China calls Diaoyu.

    The foreign and defense ministers are also expected to discuss the possibility of holding joint drills by Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military, assuming an emergency on and around the islands, the sources said.

    The joint statement is likely to mention that the two countries strongly oppose China's attempts to change the status quo by force in the East and South China seas, according to the sources. It will also likely describe such attempts as a challenge to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

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