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LEAD: U.S. not to state security pact with Japan covers Senkaku Islands.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 Kyodo


The U.S. administration of President Barack Obama has decided not to state explicitly that islands disputed by Japan and China in the East China Sea are subject to the Japan-U.S. security treaty, in a shift from the position held by former President George W. Bush, sources familiar with the matter said Monday.

Although the U.S. government has not officially changed its stance that the Japan-U.S. pact applies to the islands, known in China as the Diaoyu, the shift from making a direct reference to them could become a source of concern for Tokyo as it addresses the dispute with Beijing, the sources said.

The U.S. administration has already notified the Japanese government of the change in its policy, but Tokyo may have to take countermeasures in light of China's increasing activities in the East China Sea, according to the sources.

Japan's concern over the uninhabited islands became heightened when a Chinese oceanographic research vessel entered Japanese territorial waters near the islands in December 2008, shortly before the launch of the Obama administration.

The Obama government, however, had decided from the start not to state explicitly that the Japan-U.S. security pact applies to the islands, the sources said.

Washington is believed to have shifted position so as not to irritate Beijing as it wanted to secure cooperation in the U.S. economy's recovery from the financial crisis, the sources said.

In March 2004, then U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli told a press briefing, ''The Senkaku Islands have been under the administrative control of the government of Japan since having been returned as part of the reversion of Okinawa in 1972.''

The spokesman also said, ''Article 5 of the 1960 U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security states that the treaty applies to the territories under the administration of Japan; thus Article 5 of the Mutual Security Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands.''

When the Japanese government sought confirmation of the U.S. position on the islands in March last year, the Obama administration said the islands have been under Japanese administrative control since the 1972 reversion and the Japan-U.S. security pact applies to territories under Japanese administration, but it did not mention directly that the Senkaku Islands are subject to the pact, the sources said.

Japan's then Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura announced at the time that the U.S. position on the matter remained unchanged.

In response to a recent inquiry by Kyodo News, the State Department also said the U.S. position on the issue ''is longstanding and has not changed.''

However, while repeating that the Senkaku Islands have been under the administrative control of the Japanese government and that Article 5 of the 1960 security pact applies to territories under the administration of Japan, the department did not say specifically that the treaty's Article 5 applies to the islands.

In addition to China, the Senkaku Islands are also claimed by Taiwan.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Aug 16, 2010
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