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Japan, China eye resumption of maritime talks by end of month

Kyodo

Japan and China are considering resuming negotiations for a maritime communications mechanism involving defense authorities, possibly by the end of the month, sources said Tuesday.

The envisaged mechanism is aimed at preventing unintended maritime collisions around the Senkaku Islands, which are claimed by Beijing and Taiwan.

Japan wants the talks resumed as early as possible as part of efforts to lay the groundwork for a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a regional summit in November in Beijing. It is not yet certain whether China will respond to such a call.

Junichi Ihara, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, paid a secret visit to China over the weekend and appeared to have requested the resumption of such talks, according to the sources.

The negotiations would involve officials of both nations’ defense and foreign ministries, they said.

In a meeting in late September in China on crisis management in the East China Sea, officials from Japan and China agreed to resume talks for a maritime communications mechanism.

In June 2012, defense authorities of the two countries agreed in principle on a set of measures, such as setting up a hotline and unifying radio frequencies for warships and planes around the islands.

However, the two countries have yet to enforce the measures due to Beijing’s opposition to the Japanese government’s purchase of a major part of the Senkakus from their owner in September 2012.

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