New York: As the tensions escalate between Japan and China, foreign ministers of both the countries met late on Tuesday to discuss an island dispute that has endangered their bilateral ties.
Meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, China`s Yang Jiechi and his Japanese counterpart Koichiro Gemba talked for about one hour on how to tackle the dispute over islands that have sparked violent anti-Japanese protests in China.
Sato Masaru, assistant press secretary for Japan`s Foreign Ministry described the atmosphere at the talks as "serious" but he said that the two sides agreed it was in their mutual interest to strengthen ties.
According to Masaru, Gemba urged restraint by China, citing the damage caused to Japanese nationals and companies in China during the protests. Gemba told Yang that any form of violence could not be tolerated.
The furore over islands in East China Sea - known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China – flared up since Japan purchased the islands from a private Japanese owner named Kunioki Kurihara.
The Japanese businessman used to rent the islands to Japanese government until Tokyo’s governor decided to raise funds to purchase and develop them.
Japan claims that it purchased the island to calm the matters, as it says that Tokyo Governor’s idea of developing them would have been more provocative.
But China maintains its stand, reiterating that Japan must respect its sovereignty. China has also warned Japan of economic fallout.
Anti-Japanese protests flared up in China and a number of Japanese companies were forced to briefly halt operations.
The disputed islands in East China Sea have been claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan.
Of late, Chinese and Taiwanese vessels have been sailing in and out of the waters near the disputed islands triggering warnings from Japan.
With Agency Inputs