China, Japan held secret talks over island row: officials


A member of the Chinese minority in Hungary looks on during a demonstration at the Japanese Embassy in Budapest on September 24, 2012 during a protest over uninhabited but disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, which Tokyo controls but Beijing proclaims as its "inalienable territory". Some of the nationwide protests in China this month over the East China Sea islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China turned violent, with Japanese property and businesses targeted by furious demonstrators. AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK (Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/GettyImages)


Attila Kisbenedek

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

More from GlobalPost: Chinese writer Mo Yan wins Nobel prize in literature

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