Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera this morning to discuss the security situation in the East China Sea, Assistant Press Secretary Carl Woog said in a statement.
"Hagel conveyed that the announcement by the People's Republic of China establishing the 'East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone' is a potentially destabilizing unilateral action designed to change the status quo in the region, and raises the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation," said Woog.
Hagel commended the Japanese government for "exercising appropriate restraint" and assured Onodera that U.S. military operations will not in any way change as a result of China's announcement. Hagel noted that "recent routine and long-planned U.S. flight operations have already occurred as normal following the announcement," according to the statement.
Further, Hagel "reaffirmed longstanding U.S. policy that Article V of the Japan-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands, and pledged to consult closely with Japan on efforts to avoid unintended incidents," Woog said. Hagel also discussed with Onodera "continued progress" on steps to realign U.S. Forces in Japan and mitigate impacts on the people of Okinawa, stressing that "resolving remaining issues is a top priority of the Pentagon as part of our rebalance to Asia Pacific and goal of achieving a force posture that is more geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable," the statement adds.