Japan, China to avoid mentioning Senkakus in communication mechanism

Japan Today -- May 08
Japan and China are unlikely to mention that the waters and airspace around a group of uninhabited islets controlled by Japan and claimed by China are subject to a bilateral communication mechanism aimed at averting unintended clashes, Japanese government sources said Monday.

Not making any specific geographic reference is a compromise on the part of both nations, whose relations have been buffeted by tensions over access to the waters and airspace around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, the sources said.

How the two countries address the matter will be one of the most closely scrutinized aspects of a meeting Wednesday between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on the sidelines of a trilateral summit with South Korean President Moon Jae In.

On the economic front, Japan and China are making arrangements to launch a public-private sector council to consider specific projects of cooperation related to Beijing's "One Belt, One Road" cross-border infrastructure initiative, according to the sources.

Tokyo is hoping to further improve ties through the launch of the council to focus on infrastructure development in third countries.

There has been a recent thaw in bilateral relations strained by wartime history issues and the Senkakus, which China claims and calls Diaoyu. The islets are also claimed by Taiwan, which refers to them as the Tiaoyutais.

The territorial row intensified after Japan decided to bring the Senkakus under state control in 2012, prompting China to send vessels into the waters around the islets.

But last month, Japan and China held a high-level economic dialogue in Tokyo after a roughly eight-year hiatus, and also agreed to plan mutual visits by Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Japan is of the view that the waters and airspace around the islands should not be subject to the "Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism," while China has argued otherwise.

- Japan Today