Justin McCurry, The Guardian:
Barack Obama is expected to offer guarded support for Japan in its bitter territorial dispute with China over a group of islands in the East China Sea, as Washington seeks to reassure its Asia-Pacific allies of its commitment to regional security in the face of an increasingly assertive China.
In a sign of how anxious Japan has become over potential threats to its thousands of outlying islands, it began its first military expansion in more than 40 years at the weekend, starting construction of a new base on the southern island of Yonaguni, which is located near the Senkakus.
In a move likely to cause alarm in Beijing, Obama is expected to reach an agreement with the Philippines on better access to the country’s airbases and ports for the US air force and navy, more than 20 years after the US closed its huge naval base in Subic Bay.
Obama’s visit to South Korea will centre on security ties….
In Malaysia, where Obama will be the first sitting US president to visit since Lyndon Johnson in 1966, Obama will attempt to strengthen ties with the leadership despite concerns over its treatment of opposition politicians.
Now, I think that Japan and China should agree to let these islands be a world property, whose resources will be used to make whole those impacted by global warming. Both should have a right of free commercial passage through the area, and make an agreement that there would be no military vessels except in response to outside intervention (by, say, pirates). That would be a slight irritant to China, which doesn’t want to have any restrictions on its military movements, but it would demonstrate good faith. But that is not what is happening. Japan is forward positioning its military and the US is lining up with Japan. This will go a long way toward helping re-form the ties between China and Russia. Other than that, I see little that a formal, public tilt toward Japan will accomplish.