WASHINGTON (TIP): US and Japanese officers are discussing worst-case contingency plans for retaking disputed islands in the East China Sea if China moves to seize them, US officials said on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei newspaper first reported the talks, which prompted a strong reaction from China. “We have contingency plans and we discuss them with allies,” a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was “natural” that the two governments would confer on emergency scenarios given recent tensions.
A Pentagon official, who also asked not to be quoted by name, confirmed the discussions, saying “we’re a planning organization”. But both sources said the US government did not want to fuel tensions, and that the contingency planning would be only one of many topics on the agenda when top US and Japanese officers meet in Hawaii later this week. Admiral Samuel Locklear, head of US Pacific Command, is scheduled to host General Shigeru Iwasaki, chief of the Japanese Self Defense Forces Joint Staff, for Thursday’s talks. Officially, the Pentagon would neither confirm nor deny whether the contingency plans were under discussion.