Japanese PM Abe calls for summit with China amid territorial row

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2013, 9:06pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2013, 9:29pm

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday suggested a summit with China would improve a relationship that has been badly troubled for months.

“A high-level meeting should be held because there is a problem. If necessary, there might be a need to build the ... relationship again, starting with a summit meeting,” he told a television show.

Asia’s two largest economies have been at diplomatic daggers, drawn since Tokyo nationalised islands at the centre of a festering territorial dispute in September.

Japan insisted its move to take formal ownership of islands it controls under the name Senkakus was nothing more than an administrative shift, transferring the title deeds from an individual to the state.

But China reacted with fury to the move over what it calls the Diaoyus, accusing Japan of reverting to its war-like ways of the last century and forgetting the lessons of history.

Anti-Japan demonstrations erupted in China, targeting Japanese businesses and shops and badly denting the multi-billion dollar relationship on which both countries are dependent.

Since the nationalisation, China has repeatedly sent its ships into waters around the islands in a move that analysts say is intended to prove Japan does not have effective control over them.

Beijing’s planes have also flirted with the area and on at least one occasion ventured into what Japan considers its airspace, a move that led to commanders scrambling Japanese fighter planes.