Dec. 2 - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy as he arrives in Tokyo in hopes of diffusing tensions in East Asia. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Tokyo on Monday as a dispute simmers over Beijing's recent claim of a large swathe of airspace in the region. Newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy was at the airport to greet him. Biden is hoping to seek a delicate balance between calming military tensions with China and backing ally Japan against Beijing on a trip to Asia this week that is being overshadowed by the territorial row in the East China Sea. Japan reiterated that Tokyo and Washington had both rejected Beijing's move to set up an air defense zone that includes islands at the heart of a bitter Sino-Japanese feud - despite the fact that three U.S. airlines, acting on government advice, are notifying China of plans to transit the zone. Washington said over the weekend this did not mean U.S. acceptance of the zone, and last week sent two B-52 bombers into the area without informing China. Japan's two biggest airlines are following a request from their government not to submit flight plans in advance, which China has demanded from all aircraft since it announced the creation of the zone last month. Sino-Japanese ties, often fraught due to regional rivalry, mutual mistrust and bitter Chinese memories of Japan's wartime occupation, have become increasingly acrimonious because of a quarrel over tiny islands claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing. Washington takes no position on the sovereignty of the islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. However, it recognizes Tokyo's administrative control and says the U.S.-Japan security pact applies to them, a stance that could drag the United States into a military conflict it would prefer to avoid. U.S., Japanese and South Korean military aircraft all breached the zone last week without informing Beijing and China later scrambled fighters into the area. Other countries including the United States, Japan and South Korea have similar zones but only require aircraft to file flight plans and identify themselves if those planes intend to pass through national airspace.