Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba yesterday vowed continued dialogue with China over a blistering territorial dispute, but warned that there were limits on how far Tokyo would go to compromise.
Gemba welcomed the meeting of senior officials from the Japanese and Chinese foreign ministries in Tokyo on Thursday, at which the two agreed a vice ministerial-level meeting should be held.
“Both Japan and China need to think calmly about what to do … even if it takes some time,” Gemba said. “I regard Thursday’s meeting as part of the idea. We are continuing communications.”
However, Gemba added: “It’s not easy. The important thing is that we cannot give over what we cannot give over.”
Asia’s two largest economies are at loggerheads over the sovereignty of an uninhabited, but possibly resource-rich island chain in the East China Sea, the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), which are also claimed by Taiwan. The islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan, are administered by Tokyo.
Asked when the planned vice ministerial meeting would be held, Gemba said things were being arranged, but added: “It will take place, that’s for sure.”
Gemba said that on his upcoming tour of European countries he would be pushing Tokyo’s case with international partners.
“Relations between Japan and China have a very big impact on not only peace and security in East Asia, but also the entire global economy,” said Gemba, who is scheduled to visit Britain, France and Germany from Monday to Oct. 20.
“As a matter of course, I am supposed to explain about our country’s position” over the dispute, Gemba said.
The dispute over the islands, which has rumbled for decades, flared in August and last month with landings by nationalists from both sides and the subsequent nationalization of three of the islands by Tokyo.