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Japan, China leaders meet after tension over islands

Published on Sep 9, 2012 6:26 PM
 
Chinese President Hu Jintao acknowledges applause from the delegates after delivering his speech during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) CEO summit on Sept 8, 2012. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Chinese President Hu Jintao met briefly on Sunday after weeks of tension over a territorial dispute, with Japan calling for the neighbours to deepen mutually beneficial relations, Japanese media said.

The two met for 15 minutes on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Vladivostok.

No meeting between them had been scheduled, given the tension over their claims to uninhabited islands known as the Diaoyu in China and the Senkaku in Japan, but the Japanese prime minister said on Friday he would not shun a brief talk.

Mr Noda said Japan hoped to develop a mutually beneficial, strategic relationship with China and that he planned to deal with current relations from a "comprehensive perspective", Japan's Jiji news agency reported.

Japan's behaviour before and during the Second World War, when it occupied much of China and battled Chinese armies opposed to its rule, has soured relations with China ever since.

Tension over the islands flared last month when Japan detained a group of Chinese activists who landed on them.

That sparked anti-Japanese protests in several Chinese cities and China's state news agency blamed Japan for pushing tension "to a new high" before Japan released the activists.

The islands are controlled by Japan and owned by a Japanese family. China is also angry about a plan by Mr Noda's government to buy the islands, which are near potentially huge maritime gas fields.

Despite such friction, economic ties between Japan and China are deeper than ever and both countries are believed to want to keep the feud from spiralling out of control.