Officials from the foreign ministries of both China and Japan reportedly held talks in secret last week in Shanghai. They are said to have begun addressing their ongoing dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, and how they can begin mending their diplomatic relations after more than a month of standoffs. Located in the East China Sea, while the uninhabited territory is already controlled by Japan, China and Taiwan also each lay claim to the islands.
Chikao Kawai and Zhang Zhijun, the Vice Foreign Minsters for Japan and China, respectively, met over the weekend and agreed on the need to maintain open communications if they were ever going to move past their dispute. Osamu Fujimura, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, confirmed the meetings to reporters in Tokyo this morning, but would not give any details about exactly what was discussed or when further meetings would be held. An initial meeting was held earlier this month with government officials from both nations agreeing that peaceful negotiations over the territorial row needed to begin.
It’s not clear why these meetings are needed to held in secret, other than the possibility of wanting to keep expectations low for the public. But outside these talks relations still seem to be strained and tensions running high as there continue to be incidents of conflict. Last week saw a small fleet of Chinese naval ships pass through the waters near Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, setting off red flags for the central government in Tokyo. China’s government harshly responded that it was carrying out training exercises and resented being observed by Japanese patrol aircrafts.