BEIJING — Japan should recognize history and respect facts concerning the disputed Diaoyu Islands, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing on Dec 31.
She was responding to a question at a regular press briefing about newly declassified records that show China and Japan reached understanding and consensus on handling the disputes decades ago.
China and Japan normalized bilateral relations and sealed a treaty of peace and friendship in the 1970s. In that treaty, the older generation of leaders of the two countries reached major understanding and consensus on this issue, Hua said.
Official records declassified by the British National Archives on Dec 30 showed that China and Japan agreed to “maintain the status quo” on the Diaoyu Islands.
According to the records, then Japanese Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki said in a private conversation with his British counterpart Margaret Thatcher on Sept 20, 1982 that Japan and China had reached agreement on shelving disputes over sovereign claim on the Diaoyu Islands.
“This advice was based on his experience of dealing with the disputed territory of the Senkaku Islands(Diaoyu) on which, when dealing directly with Deng, he had easily reached agreement that the two governments should cooperate on the basis of their major common interest and leave aside the differences of detail”, the record quoted Suzuki as saying.
Also attending the meeting with Thatcher were Yoshio Sakurauchi, at that time foreign minister, and Kiichi Miyazawa, then chief cabinet secretary and later a prime minister, according to Kyodo reports.
But the Japanese government has openly denied there is any agreement with China to shelve the issue of the Diaoyu Islands.
Spokeswoman Hua said the China has noticed relevant reports. She said the Chinese stance has always been clear that the Diaoyu Islands have been an inherent part of Chinese territory since ancient times.
“We hope that the Japanese side should recognize history, respect facts and make effort to properly resolve the issue of the Diaoyu Islands,” Hua said.