A brief meeting occurred on Sunday between Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and China‘s President Hu Jintao, the first between the two Asian leaders since tensions erupted several weeks ago over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. As attendees, the pair met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, currently being hosted in Vladivostok, Russia. While nationalist activism on both sides has made diplomacy difficult, Prime Minister Noda is said to have stated that the two countries should work to deepen their mutually beneficial relations.
Noda and President Hu only met for about 15 minutes at the APEC Summit, as no official meeting between the pair had been scheduled. On Friday Prime Minister Noda is said to have commented that he would not turn down, and would be open to having a brief talk with his Chinese counterpart. He stated that the Japanese government was hoping to look at current relations with a “comprehensive perspective,” and work with China towards a strategic relationship with mutual benefits. It’s not clear at this point what President Hu’s reaction was to all this, but seeing as how the Japanese government is planning to complete its purchase of the disputed islets before the end of this month, Noda’s comments could be nothing more than sugar-coated words.
Located in the East China Sea, the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are already controlled by Japan and privately owned by a Japanese family, however China has maintained its claims over the territory seen as rich with oil deposits for several decades now. Large anti-Japanese protests were sparked in several Chinese cities after Japan arrested and detained a group of Hong Kong activists that sailed to and landed on the uninhabited islands. Thankfully it seems that both governments are aware of their deep economic ties and want to prevent their feud from progressing any further.