Japan today said it held confidential talks with a Chinese diplomat this week in a bid to resolve the two nations dispute over a resource-rich group of islands, reported The New York Times.
China's foreign ministry Asian affairs head Luo Zhaohui met Thursday with Japan's Shinsuke Sugiyama in Tokyo, Japan's government spokesman Osamu Fujimura said, according to NYT.
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The two officials “exchanged opinions” on the islands, referred to as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, said NYT, citing a Japan ministry statement.
Also today, Japan's US ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki said "nationalist sentiment" over the islands must not be allowed "to get out of control," according to CBS News. Fujusaki, addressing a think tank audience in Washington, added that Japan's security agreement with the US is helping prevent the situation from devolving into violence.
Japan nationalized some of the islands last month, a move that enraged China and enflamed territorial tensions, said NYT. The two nations have played war games at sea in recent weeks, adding to fears of a possible military confrontation.
No one lives on the islands, but their ownership plays an important symbolic role in the region because China associates Japan’s 1895 annexation of the area with a show of strength that lead to their invasion of China some 30 years later. Japan, for its part, says China only began asserting its right to the area in the 1970s, when it was reported to contain large oil and natural gas deposits, according to NYT.