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Japan hopes for meeting with Chinese president

Date Posted: 2010-11-04

As tensions continue to build between Japan and China over a September encounter between a Chinese trawler and the Japan Coast Guard in disputed Senkaku Islands waters, Japanese officials and the U.S. Secretary of States are trying to bring the two sides together to talk.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan would like to meet with Hu Jintao, China’s president, as the two participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum summit in mid-November, and America’s Hillary Clinton has offered to broker a trilateral meeting between foreign ministers of the two countries to get people talking again. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku says “I predict that he will come as scheduled,” referring to China’s president, “and will hold some kind of talks with the prime minister.”

At the same time, Sengoku said he’d like a meeting proposed between the foreign ministers, but questioned whether such sessions could be brokered in the short timelines. The Chief Cabinet Secretary says both Beijing and Tokyo need to separately decide which kind of proposals would work best for their countries. Diplomatic relations between the two Asian countries have fallen to the lowest point in years since the Japanese patrol boats and a Chinese fishing vessel collided off the East China Sea’s Sengaku Islands.

China and Taiwan both claim sovereign rights to the islands, which China calls Diaoyu, and the Japanese call Senkaku. Beijing’s Assistant Foreign Minister, Hu Zhengyue, blamed Japan for the trouble. “Japan spread groundless distortions… they want to make the Diaoyu islands a hot-topic issue,” he said, adding “Japan should take responsibility for ruining the atmosphere between the two countries.”

Efforts were made in Hanoi this week to bring the two countries together during meetings of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, but those efforts didn’t gain traction. China blocked the ASEAN nations from getting into the issue, choosing to deal with countries one-on-one. ASEAN nations, says Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, “should have one voice before we venture into talking to other claimants.”

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