Japan stands firm on China islands dispute
Japan rejected Chinese protests yesterday over the raising of a Japanese flag on disputed islands but sounded a placatory note, saying ties with Beijing are among the “most important” it has.
Tokyo stood firm in its insistence that islands where Japanese nationalists landed on Sunday, which it administers, were part of its territory, but said it wanted to improve ties with its giant neighbour.
The comments came as Chinese media rounded on Japan after street protests erupted across China over a series of moves that Beijing considers provocative.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Beijing and Taipei, which both claim the islands, had lodged objections after 10 Japanese nationalists landed on what Japan calls the Senkaku islands and China calls Diaoyu.
Sunday’s flag-raising came just days after Tokyo deported pro-Beijing protesters who had landed on the same island.
“We have explained our nation’s basic position and told them that we cannot accept their claims,” Mr Fujimura told a news conference in Tokyo.
“There is no doubt that the islands are our sovereign territory historically and under international law, and our nation controls the islands,” he added.
Despite their large and mutually important trade relationship, ties between Tokyo and Beijing are often blighted by historical animosities, especially war-time atrocities carried out by the invading Japanese army.
But Mr Fujimura insisted that neither Tokyo nor Beijing had any interest in seeing overall relations affected by the dispute over the islands, whose seabed is believed to harbour rich mineral resources.
“The Japan-China relationship is one of the most important bilateral ties for Japan,” he said.
“China’s constructive role is necessary for the stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.”