Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of staff of Japan’s Marine Self Defense Forces (MSDF), is set to meet with Admiral Wu Shengli, commander-in-chief of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), marking the first time there will be official contact between the naval leaders of the two disputing East Asian neighbors since 2009. Kawano and Wu are expected to meet during an international symposium later this month, according to a Japanese government source said Wednesday.
The meeting of admirals Kawano and Wu is set to happen on the sidelines of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium in Qindao, China, scheduled for April 22-24. The symposium will draw top naval officers from more than 20 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, but this meeting on the sidelines will mark the first between Japanese and Chinese navy chiefs in five years. The government source said that this meeting was a directive from Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, who asked Kawano to arrange a meeting with Wu. The agenda for the meeting will most likely be exploratory ideas that could help avoid unexpected naval confrontations amid heightened tensions over disputed territory in the East China Sea.
For the record, Japan and China have not engaged in uniform officer level summits since tensions heightened when the Japanese government brought the Senkaku Islands – also claimed by China as the Diaoyus – under its direct administration in September 2012, purchasing them from a private Japanese owner. After this act, bilateral relations have deteriorated to a point where naval confrontations around the territory have been increasing. Tensions turned south in January last year, when the Chinese navy was alleged to have locked its weapons radar onto a MSDF frigate ship in the East China Sea for several minutes, a move that could have triggered a military clash.
[via Global Post]
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