The United States called Wednesday on all sides to avoid "provocations" after Japan arrested pro-China activists who sailed to disputed islands on Wednesday.
"We expect the claimants to resolve the issue through peaceful means," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters. "Any kinds of provocations are not helpful in that regard."
Nuland reiterated that the United States does not take a position on the sovereignty of the archipelago -- known as the Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan -- in the potentially resource-rich East China Sea
"These guys have got to work this out and we're not going to take a side with it," Nuland said.
Japan made 14 arrests after the activists sailed from Hong Kong and landed on the archipelago with the intention of planting a Chinese flag.
The incident fell on the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II on August 15, 1945, which remains a sensitive date in East Asia and is celebrated by Koreans as Liberation Day.