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Thursday, January 29, 2015

U.S. would welcome Japan air patrols in South China Sea

Kawasaki P-1 ASW AircraftThe United States would welcome a move by Japan to extend air patrols into the South China Sea as a counterweight to a growing fleet of Chinese vessels pushing Beijing's territorial claims in the region, a senior U.S. Navy officer told Reuters.

Currently, regular patrols by Japanese aircraft only reach into the East China Sea, where Tokyo is at loggerheads with Beijing over disputed islands. Extending surveillance flights into the South China Sea will almost certainly increase tensions between the world's second- and third-largest economies.

"I think allies, partners and friends in the region will look to the Japanese more and more as a stabilizing function," Admiral Robert Thomas, commander of the Seventh Fleet and the top U.S. navy officer in Asia, said in an interview.

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