Japan and China resumed talks Monday on launching a maritime crisis management mechanism by the end of this year, as both countries aim to avert unwanted clashes over the Senkaku Islands.
The working-level talks in Tokyo, held for the first time since 2012, came after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Xi Jinping agreed during a summit in November to ease tensions over the sovereignty of the uninhabited islets in the East China Sea.
Japanese and Chinese defense authorities have so far reached a basic agreement to set up a hotline, use a common radio frequency for their ships and planes around the Senkaku Islands, and hold annual meetings.
During Monday’s talks, officials from Japan’s Defense Ministry and the Maritime Self-Defense Force and China’s Defense Ministry are believed to have discussed some specifics of the mechanism, including what frequency to use and who will be connected via the new hotline.
Tokyo and Beijing have not publicized the talks, despite some emerging signs since the Abe-Xi meeting that the friction has been easing.
Once a broad agreement is reached over details of the mechanism, senior officials will likely hold further talks to get it up and running, according to Japanese officials.
The talks on maritime crisis management had been stalled since Japan effectively nationalized the islets in September 2012. Chinese patrol ships and planes have been repeatedly spotted around the Senkakus, which Beijing calls the Diaoyu.
Japan has been beefing up defense capabilities while calling on China to engage in dialogue and make the crisis management mechanism operational at an early date.