Japan will not compromise on ownership of islands, says PM


JAPAN HAS sovereignty over the islands at the heart of a dispute with China and therefore will not compromise on ownership, its prime minister Yoshihiko Noda said yesterday.

“They are an inherent part of our territory in light of history and also under international law,” Mr Noda said in reference to the Senkaku Islands.

“Therefore, there cannot be any compromise that represents a retreat from this position,” he told a news conference in New York after attending the UN General Assembly.

Earlier yesterday Chinese and Japanese diplomats had held crisis talks to try to limit the potentially disastrous fallout from the current dispute over the group of islands in the East China Sea which both Asian giants claim.

Foreign vice-ministers from both countries met this week in Beijing to discuss Japan’s purchase this month of the islands, known as Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese, and these talks were followed by “severe” talks on the sidelines at the UN.

Both sides appeared keen to balance insistence that dialogue is taking place with tough claims of sovereignty.

Foreign minister Yang Jiechi told his Japanese counterpart, Koichiro Gemba, that the Japanese government’s island purchase constituted “a serious challenge to the postwar international order”, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.

“China will not tolerate the Japanese side taking any unilateral action on the Diaoyu islands,” the Xinhua report ran. “China will continue to take firm measures to safeguard its territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

A senior official from the foreign ministry in Tokyo, Naoko Saiki, repeated her country’s claims to the islands, and said dialogue was important while conceding that compromise with Beijing would likely be difficult.

The scale of the impact of the standoff in China has been immense. No one wants to buy a Japanese car. Nissan has stopped production in China, while Japanese airline ANA said 40,000 seats have been cancelled on flights between Japan and China.

– (Additional reporting Reuters)