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Beijing, Tokyo tackle air, sea crisis management

2015-03-20 08:31 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

Foreign affairs and defense officials from China and Japan begun high-level security talks in Tokyo on Thursday after a four-year hiatus, a meeting that is expected to mainly tackle maritime and aerial crisis management, experts said.

Liu Jianchao, China's assistant foreign minister, told the meeting that the international security situation has changed dramatically in the four years and the situation around China and Japan is also getting more complicated, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

It is important to keep an open dialogue between the two countries' foreign and defense ministries as the two sides are important neighbors and regional powers expected to maintain regional peace, he said.

Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama said China-Japan ties have gradually improved since last year as the two sides agreed to establish an air and maritime emergency contact mechanism and high-level negotiations over maritime issues.

"The first security talks in four years showed the willingness of Beijing and Tokyo and need to improve bilateral ties," Yang Bojiang, deputy director of Japanese studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Thursday.

Japan has continuously sought to set up the maritime crisis management mechanism, which has been prioritized in the meeting, Zhou Yongsheng, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times. "It will prevent potential air and sea confrontations and collisions," Zhou explained.

However, the mechanism is unlikely to be established immediately during the meeting, Yang said. "Even if it is set up, whether the mechanism will operate depends on Japan's stance on wartime history," Yang noted, adding that China is awaiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's statement on the 70th anniversary of Japan's capitulation on August 15.

In addition, both sides will sound each other out on critical issues and propose solutions, Lü Yaodong, director of the Department of Japanese Diplomacy at the Institute of Japanese Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Zhou predicted that China is likely to expound its position on wartime history and territorial disputes, while Japan may ask China to explain its defense budget and maritime presence around the Diaoyu Islands.

Clarifying critical matters during the talks will pave the way for the seventh foreign ministers' meeting between China, South Korea and Japan on Saturday.

Sino-Japanese relations witnessed a turning point last year with the signing of a four-point agreement, Liu said.

The talks, launched in 1993, were last held in Beijing in January 2011 but were suspended due to Japan's unilateral move to "nationalize" China's Diaoyu Islands.

Bilateral ties were frayed due to the territorial dispute as well as historical issues.

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