China and Japan 'to hold maritime security talks'
The governments of Japan and China have agreed to resume talks as early as next week to launch a maritime crisis management mechanism sometime this year, sources say.
The governments of Japan and China have agreed to resume talks as early as next week to launch a maritime crisis management mechanism sometime this year, according to several Japanese government sources.
Arrangements were under way for working-level talks in Tokyo as both countries worked to avert unwanted clashes around the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkakus in Japan, the sources said. The uninhabited islands are controlled by Japan but claimed by both countries.
Japan has sounded out China about resuming talks by the end of January on the establishment of some mechanism that would allow their defence authorities to communicate with each other in emergencies.
Beijing responded by saying that they could be held in the middle of the month, according to the sources.
During their summit talks in November, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Xi Jinping agreed to ease tensions over the sovereignty of the islands and establish the crisis management mechanism.
Patrol ships and aircraft from China have been repeatedly spotted around the islands, keeping the Japanese authorities on the alert.
The forthcoming talks will include officials from Japan's Defence Ministry and the Maritime Self-Defence Force, along with China's Defence Ministry.
China, which suffered Japan's wartime aggression, has been sensitive about how Tokyo handles issues related to history, particularly as this year marks the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in the second world war.
The Foreign Ministry in Beijing said it would take a wait-and-see approach to any statement by Abe on the anniversary of the war. "We are paying close attention to what kind of signals the Japanese government and leaders are sending out about the country's history of aggression [and] what kind of attitude they will adopt," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said yesterday.