Abe quotes UK's Iron Lady on island dispute
By Shingo Ito, AFPTOKYO--Japan's prime minister on Thursday quoted comments by former British premier Margaret Thatcher about the Falklands War as he spoke about Tokyo's acrimonious islands dispute with China.
March 1, 2013, 12:26 am TWN
Shinzo Abe channeled the Iron Lady in a speech to parliament in which he talked about Japan's resolve to defend the islands claimed by Beijing in the East China Sea.
“Our national interests are immutable forever,” Abe told lawmakers. “They aim at making the seas — the foundation of our nation's existence — completely open, free and peaceful.”
Aggressors should never triumph, he said.
“Former Prime Minister Thatcher, recalling the Falklands War, said she tried to follow the principle that above all, international law — the fundamental rule for the entire world — must prevail against the use of force,” Abe said.
The comments echo those by Thatcher in her autobiography in which she reflected on the 1982 conflict with Argentina over the ownership of the Falklands after an Argentine invasion.
Thatcher sent a task force that recaptured the islands after a 74-day war, which left 649 Argentines and 255 Britons dead.
While few observers see all-out war between Beijing and Tokyo over the Tokyo-controlled Senkakus, some have raised fears that a mistake or a miscalculation by a low-level commander could trigger a military incident.
In January Japan said a Chinese warship had locked its weapons-targeting radar onto a Japanese frigate and a helicopter in open waters near the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands.
More Encounters Reported
On Thursday, Japan scrambled fighter jets to head off a Chinese government plane flying towards the islands, the defense ministry said.
It said the Y-12 propeller plane did not enter airspace around the islands and headed back towards China after Japan's military planes became airborne.
Earlier Thursday Japan's coastguard said three Chinese surveillance ships had been in the territorial waters of the island chain, which Beijing claims as the Diaoyus.
“(But) the door to dialogue is always open,” Abe said. “I will call on (China) to return to the start line — a strategic partnership of mutual benefit that does not get derailed by single issues.”