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US, Japan to deploy new radar, drones in next year

By Matthew Lee

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Oct. 3 2013 7:02 a.m. MDT

China's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday, which is part of a weeklong national holiday. Beijing has criticized the installation of the first military radar system, as announced last month, to monitor Pyongyang's military activities. Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei then said the plans could affect regional stability and upset the strategic balance.

The U.S. has watched warily as tensions between Japan and China have heated up over the Senkakus, badly souring their relations and leading to bellicose talk and actions from both sides. China has increased patrols near the Japanese-administered islands that it calls Diaoyu.

Successive U.S. administrations have held to the position that the two nations must sort out their differences over the Senkakus peacefully, and that remains the case. U.S. officials said the position was so well known that there was no need to address it in the agreements.

Kishida, referring to the island dispute as well as the ongoing North Korea threat, said the security environment "has become increasingly severe." He added, "We are decidedly opposed to the attempt to change the status quo through coercion. Rule of law is critically important."

A senior administration official said the U.S. continues to believe that the most effective policy is to continue to make those points publicly and privately while encouraging the two sides to tone down rhetoric and refrain from actions that may be seen by the other as provocative. It is not in U.S. interests, nor those of Japan or China, for the chill between Tokyo and Beijing to be prolonged, the official said.

Kerry said the U.S. continues to have frank discussions with China, laying out "lines that shouldn't be crossed." He added that "a rising China is welcome as long as that China wants to engage according to international standards."

The islands, also claimed by Taiwan, stir a depth of nationalist passion that belies their size and remoteness. They are located roughly midway between Taiwan and the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, and cover a total area of just 2.3 square miles.

The senior official said the new radar, which was initially announced by then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about a year ago, will provide better coverage in the event of a North Korean attack. There already is one of the X-band radar systems in the northern part of Japan, but the official said the second one, to be located in the Kyoto Prefecture, will fill gaps in coverage.

The official said details about the deployment of the U.S. Global Hawk drones were still being worked out. The plans also included deployment of F-35 jet fighters for the Marines around 2017. And, for the first time, the U.S. will deploy Navy P-8 anti-submarine aircraft outside the U.S., sending them to Japan later this year.

More broadly, the 10-page statement signed by Kerry and Hagel was designed to improve military and diplomatic relations with Japan, while working to reduce America's troop footprint on the island.

The U.S. force of 50,000, particularly troops in Okinawa, has increased tensions between the two nations, over the military's land use, crimes committed by service members and disruptions by military flights in the heavily-populated region.

Under plans announced last year, about 9,000 Marines stationed on Okinawa will be moved out. The decision also reflects the Obama administration's effort to focus greater attention on the Asia-Pacific, and spread troops more widely across the region.

About 5,000 Marines will go to Guam. The total cost of the relocation is about $8.6 billion.

Earlier Thursday Kerry and Hagel visited the secular Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery, where the remains of more than 350,000 unidentified war dead from World War II are laid to rest.

They did not go to the nearby Yasukuni Shrine, a controversial monument that honors 2.5 million Japanese soldiers who died in wars from the late 1800s until 1945, including convicted war criminals.

Associated Press writer Didi Tang in Beijing contributed to this report.

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