Japan’s U.S. Envoy Calls For Calm Amid Tensions With China

Kenichiro Sasae wants to see a "very constructive dialogue" in 2014

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A Japanese cost guard vessel sails in front of a disputed island in the East China Sea

Japan’s ambassador to the United States, Kenichiro Sasae, has called on the two countries to remain cool-headed and stop provoking each other.

“There is no reason for us to be always bickering and arguing,” the ambassador said at an event Wednesday in Washington, D.C., according to GlobalPost. Relations between Beijing and Tokyo have been especially tense since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited a controversial war shrine in Tokyo in December.

Sasae expressed hopes that China and Japan could instead embark on a “very constructive dialogue” in 2014.

His appeal fell on the same day the top U.S. intelligence official, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, warned the Senate about the increasing risk of conflict in East Asia.

Clapper said that it is likely that China will continue a “hard-line stance” toward Japan in the territorial dispute over the Japanese administered Senkaku Islands, AP reports. (China refers to the Senkaku Islands as the Diaoyu Islands.)

The intelligence official also predicted that the competing claims over territory, along with historical resentments, will continue to generate friction and “occasional incidents” in the East and South China Sea.