TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan and China have agreed to continue making efforts to avoid unintended clashes in the East China Sea, on the first day of a two-day senior official consultation on maritime affairs in Fukuoka that started Thursday, a source close to the matter said.
The focus of the gathering is on whether the two countries can pave the way for an early implementation of a "Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism," effectively a hotline between defense officials, aimed at preventing accidental clashes in the sea where China challenges the sovereignty of Japanese-controlled uninhabited islets.
Japan and China have failed to make a breakthrough in their talks on the matter so far, due in part to Tokyo's decision to put the Senkaku Islands in the sea under state control in 2012, drawing sharp opposition from Beijing, which calls the islands Diaoyu.
In recent years, Chinese vessels have entered territorial waters near the islets.
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