US Navy Adm.
James Stavridis said on Wednesday that his own Navy’s surveillance aircraft flew over a Japanese destroyer in the South China Sea that had been fired on by the Japanese Navy, but said he had not seen the incident on video.
“The aircraft did not come close enough to see that it was fired on,” Stavidis told reporters in Manila.
“There were a lot of things that we did not see, but I can tell you that our radar and our aircraft were very, very close.
I can say with absolute certainty that we saw what we saw.”
Asked about reports that Japanese warships were firing at US planes, Stavids told reporters that the US Navy “is working with our partners to try to understand what happened.”
“The United States has a longstanding relationship with Japan, and that relationship is very strong,” he said.
Stavridys defence came after US President Donald Trump said Japan should apologize to China, saying he would not tolerate such acts of aggression by Japan against China.
Stivridis, who was visiting Japan to attend the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, said he did not want to comment on the incident that took place on Tuesday.
Stravridis was also asked about reports the US would send warships to the disputed Spratly Islands in the Spratlys, a major Chinese naval base, which China claims as its own.
“We don’t have that decision in place right now,” Stravridys spokesman said.
“If they’re going to send us a vessel, that will be done in the next 24 hours,” Stivridys deputy spokesman said, referring to the US Embassy in Manila, adding that “there’s no decision at this time.”
“I would just say that there’s nothing new,” Stovridys spokeswoman added.
Stovridis is visiting Manila on a visit after a visit to Japan, where he had previously said the United States was “open to working with” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his administration to settle the Taiwan Strait dispute.