Beijing: A senior leader of the Chinese Communist Party told a group of Japanese lawmakers and business leaders that it should recognize the existence of a territorial dispute in the East China Sea with China, Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
“Japanese Government should fully recognize the gravity of the situation and look squarely at the Diaoyu Islands issue over which there is a dispute (between the two countries),” Jia Qinglin was quoted, as saying at the meeting in Beijing.
“Sino-Japan relations are in an unprecedentedly severe phase," he said, criticizing Japan for putting the Senkaku Islands, which China called Diaoyu, under state control earlier this month.
According to the Japan Times, Jia is chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the No. 4 man in Beijing``s leadership.
Former House of Representatives Speaker Yohei Kono, who led the Japanese delegation, said ties had taken a severe turn for the worse since he met with Jia in the spring.
"The situation has significantly changed from that time, and I have come (to Beijing) feeling a heaviness in my heart," Kono said.
Sino-Japanese ties have been falling apart since Japan nationalized the islands, which Japan said is intended to maintain peaceful control of them, the report added.
Aside from the criticism, Jia praised Kono and other members of the carefully picked ‘friends’ delegation for ‘making positive contributions to improving and developing bilateral relations by promoting exchanges and cooperation in various areas’ over the past 40 years since the two countries normalized ties on Sept. 29, 1972.
The Japanese delegation included representatives of Japanese groups dedicated to promoting friendship with China, including Satsuki Eda, a senior member of the Democratic Party of Japan and a former president of the House of Councilors, and Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, known as Keidanren, the report added.