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Vice Foreign Minister Yutaka Kawashima on Monday conveyed regret to China over the recent activities of a Chinese maritime research vessel in Japan’s exclusive economic waters, ministry officials said.

Vice Foreign Minister Yutaka Kawashima on Monday conveyed regret to China over the recent activities of a Chinese maritime research vessel in Japan’s exclusive economic waters, ministry officials said.

Chinese Ambassador to Japan Chen Jian told the vice minister in response that the incident was an “accidental and isolated” case that Beijing also regretted, according to the officials.

Chen, who met Kawashima in the ministry building, expressed hope that the incident will not harm bilateral relations, they said.

The Chinese marine research ship was spotted operating Tuesday and Wednesday last week in Japan’s exclusive economic zone off the island of Amami-Oshima, northeast of Okinawa.

In late August, Foreign Minister Yohei Kono and Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan agreed in Beijing to set up a mutual notification mechanism to try to resolve disputes over research activities.

Japan has proposed sending officials to Beijing later this week to discuss the matter, but Chen declined to say whether his country would agree, only saying China is mulling the negotiation schedule, the officials said.

Such research activity drew criticism from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which in turn hindered the smooth implementation of some 17 billion yen in yen loans to China.

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