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Japan sees US as deterrent in islands dispute
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 11, 2012

Japan, China vice ministers to hold island talks: report
Tokyo (AFP) Oct 11, 2012 - Japanese and Chinese vice ministers will hold talks soon in a bid to resolve a bitter row over disputed islands that has severely damaged ties between the Asian giants, a report said.

Senior officials from the Japanese and Chinese foreign ministries agreed at a meeting in Tokyo on Thursday that the discussions would take place, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported, citing the Japanese foreign ministry.

The report did not say when the talks would take place, or which vice ministers would be involved.

It came the same day that IMF chief Christine Lagarde said China would "lose out" by not sending its finance minister and central bank chief to global economic talks in Japan this week.

Their withdrawal from the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank has been interpreted as the latest sign of the high tensions between Beijing and Tokyo over the East China Sea islands.

The islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyus in China, are administered by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing.

The dispute, which has rumbled for decades, flared in August and September with landings by nationalists from both sides and the subsequent nationalisation of the islands by Tokyo.

Japan said Thursday that its alliance with the United States has served as a deterrent in a territorial dispute between Tokyo and a rising China as it called for calm in the row.

Washington has stated that it takes no position on the disputed islands, known as the Senkaku in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese, but has made clear that its security treaty with Japan covers all areas under Tokyo's control.

The United States "has been saying that they do not take a position on the sovereignty issue but have always stated that US-Japan security arrangements would cover those islands," said Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan's ambassador to Washington.

"I think that constitutes an important deterrence," he said at the Brookings Institution think tank.

Tensions have soared in recent months as rival nationalist groups sailed to stake their claims to the remote and potentially resource-rich area. Japan has moved to nationalize the islands from a private buyer, in what it called a bid to preempt a similar attempt by Tokyo's firebrand local governor.

Fujisaki downplayed speculation that the row and a separate island dispute with South Korea would flare into full-blown conflict, saying: "That's not going to happen, that should not happen."

"This is not started by us -- by Japan -- and we have a good historical and legal position on these," he said of the territorial disputes.

"However, our position is very clear -- we are not going to raise tension and try to take it up emotionally. We would like to calmly deal with this," he added.

The rows have spread to global economic policy, with China shunning annual IMF and World Bank meetings underway in Tokyo.

However, Fujisaki credited China with making progress in recent weeks in controlling anti-Japanese protests.


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