• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Naoto Kan should be firm in ending the diplomatic dispute over the Senkaku Islands and stabilize China-Japan relations now that he has retained control of the Democratic Party of Japan, Chinese state media said Wednesday.

Chinese media outlets had been regarding Japan’s detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain partly as taking a tough line to win votes before Tuesday’s DPJ election.

Now that the “previous pressures to woo voters” is gone, the English-language Global Times said in an editorial, “it will be wise for Kan to become resolute in a swift decision to release the captain of a Chinese fishing boat and end the latest diplomatic crisis over the Diaoyu Islands,” as the islands are called in China.

The incident started Sept. 7 after the fishing boat collided with two Japan Coast Guard vessels near the disputed islands.

The paper, published by the Communist Party’s People’s Daily, went on to say the lack of a stable administration as a result of Japanese leadership changes over the past three years had led to inconsistency in dealing with domestic and international issues.

“Each time Japan changes its leader, China has to figure out whether the country’s China policy will change . . . whether his attitude toward Taiwan or the East China Sea issues will be different,” it said.

Japanese politicians will have to end their “dizzying political reshuffles and show a consistent framework of foreign policies,” the Global Times said.

In a commentary in the China Daily, Feng Zhaokui, a researcher with the Japanese Studies Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said an escalation of tensions over the islands would foil Japan’s efforts to construct an East Asian community, an initiative proposed by Kan’s predecessor, Yukio Hatoyama.

“Japanese politicians should not place personal or partisan interests over the larger interest of peace and stability in East Asia,” Feng wrote. “It is particularly unwise to pursue political capital by taking advantage of territorial disputes with China and fueling national confrontation between the two neighbors.”

The territorial spat shows no signs of cooling as it enters a second week.

A senior Chinese official Tuesday lodged China’s fifth protest with Japanese Ambassador Uichiro Niwa since the ship collisions took place, with Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin reiterating Beijing’s demand that skipper Zhan Qixiong be released immediately.

In response, Niwa was quoted as telling Liu that China has taken “unilateral action by deliberately linking the case with several unrelated issues” and Japan requests that China implement appropriate measures to avoid escalation of the situation.

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council told a news conference that protecting the sovereignty of the islands is in the common interest of both China and Taiwan, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Two activists claiming Chinese sovereignty over the Japanese-controlled islands sailed a boat Tuesday from a northern Taiwan port close to one of the islands in protest.

The voyage led to a faceoff between Taiwanese and Japanese patrol vessels. Taiwan dispatched 12 vessels to protect the fishing boat while the Japan Coast Guard sent seven vessels to intercept the group, according to Taiwan Coast Guard officials.

The disputed islands are also claimed by Taiwan, where they are called Tiaoyutai.

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