Japan said yesterday it had a “window of dialogue” open with Beijing, and hopes to hold senior defense official talks, despite vowing to forcibly expel any Chinese landing on disputed territory.
“We have the window of dialogue with China certainly open through diplomatic channels,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, told a regular press briefing.
He also confirmed the two sides were trying to arrange talks, following a report in the Asahi Shimbun that said the Asian giants were planning a defense meeting later this month, even as they remain locked in a tense standoff over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), also claimed by Taiwan.
On Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to “expel by force” any Chinese landing on the islands, after eight Chinese government vessels sailed into the disputed waters, although the prime minister himself has previously said he was open to talks.
The latest clash over the archipelago upped the stakes in a tense diplomatic battle as nearly 170 Japanese lawmakers visited the controversial Yasukuni war shrine in central Tokyo, seen as a potent symbol of Japan’s imperialist past, riling Beijing and South Korea.
Tokyo summoned the Chinese ambassador to Japan after the state-owned Chinese ships entered its territorial waters, while Beijing called the shrine visit an “attempt to deny Japan’s history of aggression.”
Chinese ships have entered Japan’s territorial waters on numerous occasions in recent months, but the flotilla on Tuesday was the biggest to enter the waters in one day since Tokyo’s nationalization of some of the archipelago in September last year.