Japan-China islands dispute ‘can be solved’

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Japan believes tensions with China fanned by a dispute over a group of uninhabited islands can be resolved, a special envoy from Tokyo said yesterday after meeting China’s president-in-waiting, Xi Jinping.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of New Komeito, the junior partner in Japan’s ruling coalition, said Japan will take a broad view in dialogue with Beijing to ­resolve the dispute between the world’s second and third-largest economies, which has escalated in recent weeks.

“Japan wishes to pursue ties with China while looking at the big picture,” Mr Yamaguchi said after his meeting with Mr Xi, the chief of China’s ruling Communist Party who is set to take over as president in March.

Mr Yamaguchi said: “I firmly believe our differences with China can be resolved.” He added that he did not directly discuss the ­islands issue with Mr Xi.

Japan’s nationalisation in September of some of the islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, sparked violent anti-Japanese protests across China. Some Japanese businesses were looted and Japanese citizens attacked. Japanese manufacturers reported considerably lower sales in China in the ­following months.