’78 Senkaku ‘accord’ unrecognized

Kyodo News

Japan never agreed to the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s 1978 proposal that called for shelving the territorial issue over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said Thursday.

The remark is apparently aimed at reiterating Tokyo’s position that the Senkaku Islands are an integral part of Japan and thus there is no territorial dispute with China, so no issue exists to be shelved between the countries.

Speaking at the day’s session of the House of Representatives Security Committee, Maehara said Deng put forth the proposal “one-sidedly” and Japan never agreed to it, adding Tokyo will never accept such a proposal even if Beijing presents it again.

Deng visited Japan in 1978 when Japan and China concluded a peace and friendship pact. While he was in Japan at that time, Deng proposed leaving the settlement of the issue to the next generation.

Maehara also touched on a disputed gas field project in the East China Sea and said China might have begun drilling there.

In September, China transported what appeared to be drilling equipment to the offshore facility under development at the gas field, which is known in Japan as Shirakaba and in China as Chunxiao.

Maehara said Japan has filed an inquiry with China to ask if it has begun drilling there but China has denied it.

Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said Prime Minister Naoto Kan is likely to reiterate that the Senkaku Islands belong to Japan if he holds bilateral talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao next week in Vietnam.

“The islands are an integral part of Japan’s territory. As we have been saying, that is beyond all doubt historically and under international law,” Sengoku said at a news conference.

China slams Maehara

BEIJING (Kyodo) A senior Chinese official criticized Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara on Thursday for using “extreme words” to “attack” China, indicating prospects of a meeting between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister Naoto Kan later this month in Hanoi may be fading.

Briefing reporters, Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue urged Japan to take “practical action to create the right conditions” for setting a Wen-Kan meeting.

“Every day, Japan is using words to attack China, even using extreme words that should not come out of the mouth of a foreign diplomat,” Hu said.

It was the first time China has criticized Maehara explicitly.

Hu cited Maehara’s comment Friday that he sees “no need to rush” in arranging high-level talks between the two countries to mend ties.

“That’s why we say we need an atmosphere and practical action to create the right conditions” for the envisaged summit, Hu said.