Sun, Feb 17, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Japan to send envoy to China for island talks: report

AFP, TOKYO

Japan will send a foreign ministry official to Beijing for three days this week for talks on an ongoing territorial dispute and North Korea’s recent nuclear test, a report said yesterday.

Tokyo will dispatch Shinsuke Sugiyama, head of the ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs bureau, for the meetings with Chinese government officials from Tuesday, Kyodo news agency said, citing a ministry source.

The relationship between the two countries has cooled over the territorial row involving the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which Taiwan calls the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) and which last year triggered anti-Japan rallies across China.

Sugiyama is expected to raise Tokyo’s concerns about a Chinese frigate locking its weapons-control radar onto one of its destroyers last month, the report said, in an incident Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called “provocative” and “dangerous.” China has flatly denied the accusation.

The envoy will also discuss the response to North Korea’s third nuclear test, which it conducted this week, with Tokyo under pressure to keep China onside as the wider world seeks Beijing’s support for stricter sanctions on Pyongyang.

Chinese protests over the disputed islands in the East China Sea and an unofficial consumer boycott have stung Japanese businesses operating in the world’s second-largest economy.

Some observers have warned diplomatic tensions could degenerate into a military clash, with potentially disastrous consequences for the region.

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