US, Japanese officials hold discussion on islands row
Updated: 2012-10-16 08:17
By Zhang Yunbi (China Daily)
Tokyo on Monday briefed Washington on its stance in the Diaoyu Islands diplomatic standoff during high-level talks in Japan's capital as the country's month-long territorial row with China continues.
Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba on Monday met visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns in Tokyo.
Gemba sought Washington's understanding of Japan's position that no territorial dispute exists over the uninhabited islands, Kyodo News Agency reported.
US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns in Tokyo on Monday for discussions with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba. Yuriko Nakao / Reuters
Burns also said he endorsed the importance of the US-Japan alliance during the talks.
After arriving in Tokyo on Sunday, Burns also met Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto and Shinzo Abe, leader of Japan's main opposition Liberal Democratic Party and former prime minister.
Abe, who is promising to help his party win the upcoming general election, told Burns that "there is no room for talk" on the Diaoyu Islands, Japan's Jiji Press News Agency reported.
Burns embarked on an eight-day trip on Saturday to Japan, South Korea, China, Myanmar and India, and the deputy secretary will visit China on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Washington has affirmed that it does not have a position on the row, and it rejected a mediation role.
Yuan Peng, an expert on US studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said Washington is making unseen efforts to keep the situation from spiraling out of control, and its public gesture of "no mediation" has given it greater flexibility in coordinating both sides.
"For Washington, keeping the situation on track now doesn't hurt it and, in return, will be more in its interests from a strategic view," Yuan said.
Gemba, the foreign minister, also told reporters that Burns welcomed his call for a "calm reaction to the situation", Jiji reported.
Lu Yaodong, director of the Japanese diplomacy department under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said: "Tokyo's offer for 'easing tension' is just a posture for diplomacy, a move to convince the international community that it is actively seeking a resolution."
Lu said Beijing should not count on Noda's making a major change of his stance.
"He will make little concession over the issue," he said.
Meanwhile, Gemba is visiting Britain, France and Germany this week, and Japanese media said the minister will highlight his trip with broad publicity to justify Japan's claim over the Diaoyu Islands.
Beijing on Monday warned that Japan's attempt to seek support from other countries on the Diaoyu Islands spat with China is completely futile.
"Regardless of its international propaganda, Japan can not deny the historical facts of its illegal theft and possession of China's territory," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news conference.
After an extravagant navy showcase on Sunday, Tokyo seems set to proceed in November with a joint drill with the United States that will simulate a "retaking of a remote island from foreign forces", Xinhua reported.
As for Washington's vow of not taking a position over the territorial dispute, Hong said: "We hope the US can keep its promise and do what it has promised."
Yuan Peng, the US studies expert, said that Washington early on has seen the advantages it can get from the row over the islands, and the islands have so far been used as a tool to help Washington's strategic return to a pivotal role to Asia.