Diaoyu Tensions Hang Over Envoy’s Beijing Visit

A Japanese envoy visited Beijing on Tuesday to discuss simmering tensions between the two sides, according to the Associated Press. From the South China Morning Post:

Natsuo Yamaguchi made no comments upon his arrival but told reporters in Tokyo he hoped his trip would help ease months of friction over the uninhabited East China Sea islands that are controlled by Japan but claimed by China.

“It is important for us to have consultations to normalise our relationship,” said Yamaguchi, a lawmaker who leads the New Komeito party, the junior partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Both nations have called for dialogue recently, and Chinese state broadcaster CCTV led its noon news broadcast with a live report on Yamaguchi’s arrival in a sign of the importance Beijing attaches to his visit.

Yamaguchi is not a member of the government so his meetings in Beijing represent a type of quiet diplomacy that could allow for a franker exchange of views than official talks might.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that two sides did not discuss the Diaoyu Island issue directly. Still, the People’s Daily commented that the visit signals that neither side wants to see the confrontation escalate beyond control:

China has always called for resolving the dispute through dialogue and consultation in the hope that the issue will not stand in the way of a stable and healthy bilateral relationship.

As a sign of good faith, China has invited Japanese politicians such as Yukio Hatoyama and Kenji Kosaka, a lawmaker from Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, to visit Beijing this month.

However, the situation remains tense and volatile. Japan needs to deal with the issue with calmness, reason and with a sense of reality.

In so doing, the two countries can find a way to move the issue in the right direction through diplomatic talks.

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