Japan and China start using defense hotline

Japan and China began operating a defense hotline between the two nations on Tuesday. The hotline is designed to prevent accidental clashes between Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the Chinese military.

The governments of the two countries said Japanese Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu and his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu spoke on the line for the first time for about 20 minutes starting at 4:30 p.m.

The hotline was launched on March 31. It is part of a broader communications mechanism between Tokyo and Beijing that was introduced earlier to prevent accidental clashes at sea or in the air.

Hamada and Li confirmed that the entire communications mechanism is playing an important role in building mutual trust and preventing possible contingencies. They verified that both sides will use the hotline regularly and appropriately.

Hamada told Li that, while both countries have concerns about the situation in the East China Sea and other areas, the two sides need to exchange views candidly.

The government officials said that communication between the two sides will continue.