Japan backs U.S. destroyer sailing into disputed S. China Sea area

TOKYO — Japan expressed support Monday for a U.S. decision to send one of its destroyers through part of the South China Sea claimed by China to exercise “freedom of navigation.”

“It is extremely important for the international community to cooperate so as to protect open, free and peaceful seas,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference, supporting the U.S. dispatch of the naval vessel to the area.

The top government spokesman made the comment after the Aegis-equipped destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) of Triton Island in the Paracel Islands on Saturday, the second such navigation under an operation that came to light last October. PNA/Kyodo/www.northboundasia.com