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Publication Date : 23-01-2013


Though China and Japan are not out of the crisis, recent developments seem to show signs that neither wants to see the current confrontation over the Diaoyu islands spiral out of control.

Japan's New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi started his Beijing trip yesterday. He is the first Japanese party leader to visit China since the previous administration's "nationalisation" of three of China's Diaoyu Islands last September, a move that pushed bilateral relations to their lowest point since the two countries normalised their ties in 1972.

In an interview with a Hong Kong television programme on Monday, Yamaguchi recommended that the two countries shelve the island dispute since they can't find a solution that is satisfactory to both.

This wisdom, shelving the dispute and leaving it to later generations, as Yamaguchi mentioned, was the consensus of the Chinese and Japanese leaders who normalised bilateral relations forty years ago.

However, the Japanese government's "nationalisation" move has reshuffled the situation and its stance of "indisputable territorial sovereignty" over the islands has made talks on finding solutions impossible.

If such views reflect the Abe administration's policy, then the door is closed to finding a peaceful settlement to the territorial dispute.

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.

Abe says that Japan sees China as one of its most important diplomatic relationships and promises to pull the frayed bilateral relations back on track. We hope that Yamaguchi's Beijing visit will be the prelude to dialogue and consultations between the two countries.

With talks and consultations, a diplomatic solution to the current standoff is possible.

But since the Japanese "nationalisation" of some Diaoyu Islands has fundamentally changed the preconditions of such talks and consultations, the status quo is not an acceptable starting point.

The Japanese should not imagine that such a provocative move, though devoid of any legal standing, can be made without paying a price.


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