China, Japan seek to cool Diaoyutai tensions

Reuters, BEIJING

Sat, Jan 26, 2013 - Page 1

China and Japan sought to cool down tensions over a chafing territorial dispute yesterday, with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) telling an envoy from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he was committed to developing bilateral ties.

Xi would consider holding a summit meeting with Abe, said Natsuo Yamaguchi, a senior lawmaker and head of Japan’s New Komeito Party.

The meeting came as China took the dispute over a series of uninhabited islands — the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), which are also claimed by Taiwan — to the UN.

At China’s request, the UN will later this year consider the scientific validity of a claim by Beijing that the islands, called the Senkakus by Japan, are part of its territory.

“The China government’s policy to pay close attention to China-Japan relations has not changed,” Xi told Yamaguchi at their meeting in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, according to a statement on the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Web site.

However, he added: “The Japanese side ought to face up to history and reality, take practical steps and work hard with China to find an effective way to appropriately resolve and manage the issue via dialogue and consultations.”