Japan and China hold high level talks over disputed islands
Big News Network.com Wednesday 26th September, 2012
NEW YORK - Talks between foreign ministers of Japan and China held here ended expectedly without any breakthrough as the tension between the two Asian neighbours escalated over a set of marine-rich disputed islands claimed by both.
The bitter territorial dispute showed no signs of easing as China's Yang Jiechi and Japanese Koichiro Gemba held high-level talks on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
China's official Xinhua news agency said Yang reiterated China's "position" claiming full sovereignty of the disputed East China Sea islands"
The islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, are in the administrative control of Japan but are claimed by China and Taiwan as well.
Gemba described the atmosphere of the hour-long meeting as "severe" and warned China to exercise restraint over the islands, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported.
Yang in reply reiterated Beijing's "solemn position on the issue of Diaoyu Islands, which have been China's sacred territory since ancient times", Xinhua reported.
This was the first ministerial meeting between China and Japan since Tokyo announced its plan to purchase some of the islands from their private Japanese owner, triggering tension in the region.
Acquisition of the islands by Japan has triggered widespread anti-Japan protests in China with many Chinese refusing to buy Japan-made goods.
The bilateral ties between the neighbours have sunk to their lowest point in years.
Yang said the Japan government had bought the uninhabited islands "regardless of China's stern representations and strong opposition", according to Xinhua.
He said the move was "an outright denial" of the defeat of Japan in World War II "and a grave challenge to the post-war international order".
He warned that bilateral relations could not "return to the track of sound and steady development" unless Japanese officials "take concrete measures to correct its mistakes."
The Chinese news agency however indicated that both the nations, who are important trading partners in Asia, don't want the tension to escalate and promised to maintain "consultations on the issue" and on "bilateral relations."
Tension at the sea also remains high, with China regularly sending patrol and surveillance ships near the Japanese-controlled islands.
On Tuesday, Japanese coast guard ships exchanged water cannon fire with coast guard vessels and fishing boats from Taiwan, which also claims the islands.
The disputed archipelago consists of five islands and three reefs. The Japanese government signed a deal early this year to purchase three islands from Japanese businessman Kunioki Kurihara, who used to rent them out to the Japanese state
The islands were the focus of a major diplomatic row between Japan and China in 2010.