Washington: Two important wings of the Obama administration - the Pentagon and the State Department - came out in open support of an active role for Japan in the South China Sea, which has attracted a strong reaction from China.
The White House on the other hand appeared to strike a conciliatory note calling for peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea, amid a sharp reaction from China on a recent comment made by commander of the US 7th fleet that welcomed Japanese air patrol in the sea.
China has warned that this will add to the tension in the region which said that one should focus on stability in the region, and not to increase tension.
"We would agree (7th fleet Commander) that those kinds of patrols and that activity (by Japan) is welcome and will help contribute to stability in the region. There's no reason for China or any other nation to look at it any differently," the Pentagon Press Secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby, said.
At a separate news conference, the State Department echoed the Pentagon.
"We're not aware of any plans or proposals for Japan to patrol the South China Sea. I believe they were comments made by a DOD official," the State Department Spokesperson, Jen Psaki, told reporters at her daily news conference.
"We welcome and support a more active role for Japan in ensuring stability and security in East Asia and globally, including in addressing maritime security challenges. But we're not aware of plans or proposals for new patrols," she said.
The White House favoured a peaceful resolution of disputes in South China Sea, she said observing that this is a zone of commerce that's critically important to the global economy.
"The administration policy (is) that we have sought to pursue is to make sure that disputes that are arising in the South China Sea are resolved peacefully. South China Sea is a zone of commerce that's critically important to the global economy," White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest said.
"Ensuring that commerce can be conducted in that region of the world is in the clear interest of the largest economies in the world, including China, Japan and the United States. We all have an interest in making sure that those disputes are resolved peacefully, and in a way that will allow commerce to continue unimpeded in that region of the world," Earnest said in response to a question.