May, 13 2014 10:09:00

Japan, UK call for de-escalation of East Sea tensions

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. — Photo XINHUA

TOKYO (VNS) — Japan expressed support yesterday for ASEAN leaders' calls for restraint and a de-escalation of tensions in the East Sea following Beijing's commencement of oil drilling in waters off Viet Nam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago.

"We hope that countries concerned will refrain from taking unilateral actions that will heighten the tensions, and act calmly in accordance with relevant international law," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference.

His comments came after the leaders of the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations expressed concern over China's attacks on Vietnamese vessels near the Hoang Sa Archipelago.

The leaders urged all parties to exercise self-restraint and resolve maritime and territorial disputes by peaceful means without resorting to threats or use of force, as they adopted the Nay Pyi Taw Declaration at the end of their summit in the Myanmar capital.

Suga, the government's top spokesman, said Japan is "deeply concerned" about the heightened regional tension due to "China's unilateral drilling activity".

On May 10, British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire said on an official website that the incident has led to increased tensions in the South China Sea.

"The UK supports the EU statement issued on May 8, and has raised the issue with the Chinese government at the ministerial level. We urge all parties to exercise restraint and seek to de-escalate the situation," he said.

The statement by the EU said that it was concerned about the incidents involving China and Viet Nam relating to the movements of the Chinese oil rig HD981.

"In particular, the EU is concerned that unilateral actions could affect the security environment in the region, as evidenced by reports about the recent collision of Vietnamese and Chinese vessels," it said.

"We urge all parties concerned to seek peaceful and cooperative solutions in accordance with international law, in particular the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to continue ensuring safety and freedom of navigation," it said.

"We also call on the parties to undertake de-escalating measures and refrain from any unilateral action which would be detrimental to peace and stability in the region," it said, adding that the EU would follow developments closely. — kyodo/VNS

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