Secret Japan-China talks held over island dispute

Oct. 16, 2013 – 07:01AM JST


A senior Chinese government official has secretly visited Japan for talks with Japanese officials aimed at improving bilateral relations damaged by an ongoing territorial row, a report said Tuesday.

The talks involving a high-ranking official from the Chinese foreign ministry’s Asian division were thought to have been held in early October, Japanese news agency Jiji Press reported from Beijing quoting Chinese government sources.

A high-ranking official from the Japanese foreign ministry attended the meeting, the report said.

A Japanese foreign ministry official declined comment on the content of the report, saying: “Japan and China have been making various exchanges at various levels.”

The Tokyo-Beijing ties took a nosedive in September last year over the ownership of the Japan-controlled Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyus.

The row over the islands in the East China Sea has led to warnings of a possible armed confrontation.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe managed a brief encounter and shook the hand of Chinese President Xi Jinping last week on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Indonesia. But China rejected a formal sit-down meeting between them due to the island dispute.

Abe has not held formal talks with Chinese and South Korean leaders since taking office last December. Tokyo also has a dispute with Seoul over a group of South Korea-controlled isles.

The legacy of Japan’s 20th century wartime aggression has also been souring Tokyo’s ties with the neighbors.

(C) 2013 AFP

China official clearly calls Senkaku core interest

Jiji Press — Apr 27

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying clarified at a regular press conference Friday that the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea are part of the country’s core interests concerning its territorial sovereignty.

It is the first time that a Chinese Foreign Ministry official has recognized in a public comment that the islands represents a core interest of China.China looks certain to further toughen its stance against Japan over the islands, which Beijing calls Diaoyu, now that they have been clearly cited as a core interest of the country by a senior Foreign Ministry official.

News source: Jiji Press

China to conduct naval exercises in East China Sea

National Oct. 19, 2012 – 07:00AM JST( 10 )


China will conduct naval exercises on Friday to practise defending territorial sovereignty in the East China Sea, state media said, amid strained ties between Tokyo and Beijing over a disputed island chain.

Both sides have adamantly pressed their claims to the Tokyo-controlled islands—known as the Diaoyus in China and Senkakus in Japan—and the row has caused diplomatic and economic fallout between the historic rivals.

“The exercise is aimed at… sharpening their response to emergencies in missions to safeguard territorial sovereignty and maritime interests,” the official Xinhua news agency on Thursday quoted a navy statement as saying.

China has sent maritime surveillance ships and fisheries patrol vessels near the islands in recent weeks as the row has escalated, and on Wednesday a Chinese naval flotilla passed near separate islands that are internationally recognized as Japanese.

As well as naval vessels, Friday’s exercise will include vessels from the marine surveillance agency and fishery administration, both of which the statement said “have been stalked, harassed and even intentionally interfered with by foreign vessels”.

The three bodies have staged joint exercises before, it said.

The dispute flared in August after nationalists from both countries landed on the islands and Tokyo later nationalized some of them.

Chinese citizens staged massive demonstrations in many cities, forcing Japanese firms to suspend or reduce operations, and official events, passenger flights and other events involving the two sides have been cancelled.

Trade between the two countries topped $300 billion last year.

Reports this week said Japan and the United States were considering holding a joint military drill to simulate retaking a remote island from foreign forces.

The exercise, part of broader joint maneuvers to start in early November, would use an uninhabited island in Okinawa, Jiji Press and Kyodo News agencies quoted unidentified sources as saying.

© 2012 AFP

Japan, U.S. troops consider drill to retake island

National Oct. 15, 2012 – 07:10AM JST


Japan and the United States are mulling a joint military drill to simulate retaking a remote island from foreign forces, reports said Sunday, amid a festering row between Tokyo and Beijing over disputed islets.

The exercise, part of broader joint maneuvers to start in early November, would use an uninhabited island in Okinawa, southernmost Japan, Jiji Press and Kyodo News agencies quoted unidentified sources as saying.

The drill would involve Japanese and US troops making an amphibious and airborne landing to retake the island using boats and helicopters, Kyodo said.

Japan and China have long been at loggerheads over the sovereignty of rocky outcrops in the East China Sea known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China.

The Tokyo-administered island chain is uninhabited, but is thought to be sitting on top of valuable resources.

The dispute flared in August and September with landings by nationalists from both sides and the subsequent nationalisation of the islands by Tokyo.

The exercise would reportedly use the uninhabited island of Irisunajima. The tiny island, used as a firing range for U.S. forces, is also in the East China Sea but hundreds of kilometres (miles) away from the disputed island chain.

Jiji said some Japanese and U.S. government officials were cautious about holding the drill, fearing a likely angry response from China.

© 2012 AFP


Bullet sent to Chinese embassy in Japan

CrimeSep. 29, 2012 – 06:15AM JST( 5 )


The Chinese embassy in Tokyo has received a bullet in the post, with the sender giving their name as the Japanese prime minister, police and reports said Friday, amid a festering territorial row.

An envelope containing the rifle bullet arrived at the embassy on Thursday morning, Jiji Press said.

A spokeswoman at the prime minister’s office said only that the premier had not sent the bullet, without elaborating on any action it might take.

Noting that the sender’s name written on the envelope was “Yoshihiko Noda”, embassy officials took it to police, Jiji said, citing investigative sources.

There was no letter included.

“It is true that an envelope containing a bullet-like object was sent to the embassy,” said a police spokesman. “Police are investigating whether it was a real bullet.”

Tensions between Japan and China have flared since the nationalist governor of Tokyo said he wanted to buy and develop the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. Beijing claims them as the Diaoyus.

They spiked when the Japanese government nationalised them, a move Tokyo says was purely administrative but which Beijing lashed out at as a provocation.