Japan, China to set up communication system to avoid sea, air clashes in East China Sea: Report

The accord follows last month's agreement between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on improving bilateral relations. PHOTOS: AFP, REUTERS, EPA-EFE

TOKYO - Japan and China have reached a broad accord on setting up a communication mechanism to prevent accidental clashes in disputed waters in the East China Sea or the airspace above it, Kyodo News agency reported on Wednesday (Dec 6), citing sources with knowledge of the discussion.

The accord was reached during high-level talks on maritime issues held by the two governments on Tuesday (Dec 5) and Wednesday in Shanghai, Kyodo added, quoting the sources.

The planned mechanism concerns a group of uninhabited isles in the East China Sea, claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan.

The islands, known as Senkaku in Japan, are referred to as Diaoyu Islands in China, and Tiaoyutai Islands in Taiwan, respectively.

They have been at the centre of a long-running dispute between the countries due to their strategic location and are believed to harbour vast natural resources below their seabed.

The accord on the mechanism follows an agreement between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang last month to improve bilateral relations, which have long been strained by historical issues and the territorial dispute, Kyodo said.

Tokyo and Beijing have been conducting ongoing talks on the details of the communication system since a basic agreement was reached in 2007 between Abe and then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to launch such a system to prevent clashes between airplanes and ships belonging to the Japanese Self-Defence Forces and the Chinese military around the isles, Kyodo added.

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