There is one eminently simple way of taking the heat out of the Diaoyu Islands dispute, and that is for the Japanese Government to dismantle the lighthouse and remove the flag put up by the nationalist extremists. Then, the claimants to the eight small outcrops in the sea could leave them in their natural state until the politicians sit down at the negotiating table and resolve the issue with formally constituted talks. This is the only way the argument will ever be resolved for good. To delay in embarking on such a course merely allows popular emotion to rise to a point at which it is in danger of leading to intemperate action. The Japanese Government cannot fail to recognise the strength of Chinese feeling over the Diaoyu issue. The islands may only be barren crags, but they have become a potent symbol of past suffering which may perhaps be forgiven with time, but which will never be forgotten. In historic terms, the islands are indisputably part of Chinese territory, a fact that has been recorded on maps in China since the 15th century and on British maps of the Chinese empire charted as early as 1790. Beyond that - and whatever the territorial arguments over their ownership - it is now beyond dispute that for the Chinese, as a people rather than as a country, these uninhabited islets are a flashpoint for resentment at past humiliation. Six decades on, the memory of the suffering inflicted upon China by Japan's militarism and territorial predations is never far below the surface in relations between these two major Asian powers. Beijing has been at some pains to keep the Diaoyu issue low key, despite the clamour for action in Hong Kong and Taiwan. It knows full well how much is at stake in terms of Japanese investment and industry, as well as in diplomatic relations. China's decision to keep the temperature down may well pay dividends. It is certainly a base on which to build. When Foreign Minister Qian Qichen holds talks with his Japanese counterpart, Yukihiko Ikeda, in New York next Tuesday, he should urge Japan to show goodwill and common sense by removing all nationalistic symbols from the islands, and by ordering its patrol boats to withdraw. Until that is done, there is the growing danger that separate groups of protesters may take matters into their own hands, escalating the row out of all proportion. Tokyo must understand that, given the lessons of history, China will constantly be suspicious of Japanese military ambitions. The first priority now is to cool the situation down. Only Japan can do that, by vacating the islands. It should move without delay.