Japan today said it held confidential talks with a Chinese diplomat this week in a bid to resolve the two nations dispute over a resource-rich group of islands, reported The New York Times.
China’s foreign ministry Asian affairs head Luo Zhaohui met Thursday with Japan’s Shinsuke Sugiyama in Tokyo, Japan’s government spokesman Osamu Fujimura said, according to NYT.
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The two officials “exchanged opinions” on the islands, referred to as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, said NYT, citing a Japan ministry statement.
Also today, Japan’s US ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki said “nationalist sentiment” over the islands must not be allowed “to get out of control,” according to CBS News. Fujusaki, addressing a think tank audience in Washington, added that Japan’s security agreement with the US is helping prevent the situation from devolving into violence.
Japan nationalized some of the islands last month, a move that enraged China and enflamed territorial tensions, said NYT. The two nations have played war games at sea in recent weeks, adding to fears of a possible military confrontation.
No one lives on the islands, but their ownership plays an important symbolic role in the region because China associates Japan’s 1895 annexation of the area with a show of strength that lead to their invasion of China some 30 years later. Japan, for its part, says China only began asserting its right to the area in the 1970s, when it was reported to contain large oil and natural gas deposits, according to NYT.
BEIJING, Oct. 12 (Xinhuanet) — China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, has said Japanhas never had legal sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands. Hong made the remarks in response to Japan’s Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, who recently rejected China’s claim to the Diaoyu Islands.
Japan’s Foreign Minister, Koichiro Gemba, said China only began asserting territorial sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands in the 1970s.
He suggested China previously did not view the islands as part of its territory.
In an attempt to support his claims, Gemba cited a letter sent from the then consul of the Republic of China in Nagasaki in 1920, and a Chinese map published in 1960.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, was quick to dismiss the documentation.
Hong Lei, Spokesman of Chinese Foreign Ministry, said, “Gemba’s materials are fragmented and taken out of context and it is not the first time he has done so. To prove his stance with such fragmented materials, regarding such a major and serious issue concerning national territory and sovereignty, only demonstrates that Japan has never legally owned the Diaoyu Islands.”
Hong stressed that scholars from both China and Japan have conducted a full and accurate historical account of the Japanese theft of the Diaoyu Islands, in the 1895 Sino-Japanese war.
He has called on Japan to return to the negotiating table and maintain bilateral ties with concrete actions.
Hong said, “The Chinese government has noted recent remarks by the Japanese side that they hope to avoid further destabilization of ties. If Japan is serious about maintaining good bilateral relations, it should realize its mistake in using provocative words and actions. The Japanese side should return to negotiations with concrete actions, in order to solve this issue.”