Japan-China Meetings Not Likely at APEC Summit

Posted September 7th, 2012 at 7:15 am (UTC-5)
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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda says he will not likely meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of this week's Asia-Pacific forum in Russia, during a heightened territorial dispute between the countries.

But Tokyo officials say informal discussions may be held when both leaders attend the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in the city of Vladivostok on Saturday and Sunday.

Tensions over a group of East China Sea islands known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese have damaged ties between Asia's two largest economies.

Earlier this week, China condemned Japan's plans to purchase the islands, which are near large oil and gas deposits. Prime Minister Noda said Friday talks to buy the islands from their Japanese owner are still ongoing.

“We are still in negotiations with the owners for the calm and stable maintenance of the Senkaku Islands. I cannot give you any more details as it will infringe upon the rights of the owners.”

The purchase attempts were prompted by Tokyo's nationalist governor, Shintaro Ishihara, who offered to have his metropolitan government buy the islands, saying Japan was not doing enough to protect the territory from Chinese claims.

Since then, activists supporting both China and Japan have landed on the islands, further raising tensions and leading to large anti-Japan protests in China. Recent reports have suggested the dispute is affecting Japanese car sales in China.

Separately, Mr. Noda said Friday that he is not planning formal meetings with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at the APEC summit. South Korea and Japan are involved in their own dispute over a group of South Korean-controlled islands known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japan.