The government under former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi studied the idea of putting the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea under state control, before three were nationalized in September last year, Yoshihiko Noda, another former prime minister, said Wednesday.
“During the time of the Koizumi administration, there was negotiation (with a private owner) but this fell through,” Noda said at a gathering in Tokyo, noting that the move to purchase the Senkakus surfaced when Koizumi was prime minister from 2001 to 2006.
Noda was prime minister when the government purchased three of the five main islands in the uninhabited Senkaku group from a private owner in September last year.
The issue of sovereignty of the Japanese-controlled Senkakus, which China claims and calls Diaoyu, has long been a source of friction between Tokyo and Beijing.
Prior to the purchase of the Senkakus, Noda said he had a brief chat with then-Chinese President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of a regional summit in Russia.
During that chat, Noda said Hu had raised the issue of the Senkakus, which prompted Noda to reiterate Japan’s position that they were Japan’s territory under international law and historically.