TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi called on his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe (魏鳳和) to halt maritime activities in the Diaoyutai Islands during an intense videoconference, with both sides defending their nation’s sovereign claims over the area.
According to Japanese reports, Kishi expressed "serious concern" during the meeting about the normalization of Chinese coast guard boats in the waters near the Diaoyutai Islands. He also said that it was "completely unacceptable" that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (王毅) tried to justify the intrusion of Chinese ships into the disputed waters during his visit to Japan last month.
The defense minister stated that as Japan has effectively controlled the Diaoyutai Islands, regardless of history or international law, the islands are Japanese territory. There is no issue of sovereignty. He demanded that China refrain from escalating the situation, Liberty Times reported.
In response, Wei continued to advocate China's sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands and emphasized China's determination to protect its territorial sovereignty and maritime interests.
In order to avoid a military conflict, the two sides launched the Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism in 2018, but it has not yet been put into operation. When Wang visited Japan last month, he and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi reached an agreement to open the hotline this year.
Monday’s meeting was meant to negotiate the establishment of a Japan-China defense hotline. Though the two defense ministers were caught up in defending their respective nation’s sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands and failed to finalize a date, they ultimately agreed to open a hotline as soon as possible.