Beijing vowed further measures to guard its sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands as top diplomats met in New York.
Despite Tokyo’s repeated call for dialogue with Beijing, observers said Japan’s constant international lobbying to deny the existence of the territorial dispute shows it has little confidence in diplomacy or the ability to persuade others of its stance.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi agreed to a meeting following a request by his Japanese counterpart Koichiro Gemba and they met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday night.
Vowing to uphold Beijing’s zero tolerance of Tokyo’s provocation over the islands, which have belonged to China for centuries, Yang said China will “continue to take firm measures” to safeguard territorial sovereignty.
Japan must “face reality and dispel any illusions”, Yang said, and only by doing this and correcting its mistakes could China-Japan relations advance.
Leading Japanese media organizations said the hour-long meeting saw little progress.
Qu Xing, president of the China Institute of International Studies, said Japan’s illusion rests on attempts it is making to persuade China to accept the illegal “purchase” of the islands which Beijing has always rejected.
Also in New York, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told reporters it is necessary to arrange “dialogue and communication at various levels”, and it is critical to make sure “the channel for dialogue is not shut down”.
“But Japan’s requests for consultation to ease tension do not necessarily mean that it will give up its existing stance,” Qu said of Tokyo’s refusal to reverse the “purchase”.
Japan stole the islands at the end of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95). Key declarations following World War II, including the Cairo Declaration, clearly returned the islands to China.
China on Tuesday released a white paper on the islands to assert sovereignty and denounced Japan’s attempt to challenge the post-war international order.
Liu Jiangyong, a specialist in Japanese studies at Tsinghua University, said frequent patrols by Chinese vessels in territorial waters off the islands have further underlined Japan’s failure to implement what it has long claimed as “actual control”.
“Constantly patrolling the waters will be one of China’s measures,” Liu said.
Meanwhile, Noda has lobbied Australia, Mongolia, Indonesia and Colombia over the islands, and he ramped up Japan’s stance that “there is no territorial dispute over the islands”.
Japan’s Fuji Television quoted a Japanese government source as saying that “it is not possible to restore (Japan-China) ties immediately, and it is a long-term struggle”.
Noda will “state Japan’s stance” over the islands in New York during an address to the UN General Assembly.
Reports said he will avoid mentioning the dispute with China during the speech.
Japan’s government announced on Sept 10 a final decision to “purchase” some of the islands in the East China Sea.
Protests erupted across China and the diplomatic deadlock is threatening trade ties between Asia’s two biggest economies, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said.
Japan’s leading automaker, Nissan, revealed it will suspend production on one of its joint ventures in China from Thursday for the upcoming holiday period. Suzuki, another Japanese automaker, also curtailed production in China
In another development, Kyodo said prominent figures of seven Japan-China friendship organizations will visit China from Wednesday.
The guests include several former senior officials and diplomats.
Makiko Tanaka, former Japanese foreign minister, is also scheduled to visit Beijing at the same time.
“In addition to political and economic ties, exchanges can play a complementary role in ties when governments cannot narrow their differences,” said Liang Yunxiang, a professor of international relations at Peking University.
“There has been a long tradition of exchanges and contacts, even before the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1972,” Liang added.
The heads of seven Japanese organizations visited Beijing in 2006 to foster ties.
Beijing announced on Sunday that the date for events marking the 40th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan relations will be “adjusted to an appropriate time”.