The government on Monday reiterated its view that no territorial dispute exists between Japan and China, responding to a suggestion by a senior Chinese military official that the two nations put their tensions over a group of islands claimed by Beijing on the back-burner.
"We don't have any territorial dispute to be solved over the Senkaku Islands," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference, referring to the uninhabited islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan. China calls the islands Diaoyu.
The comment by the top government spokesman followed remarks on Sunday by Lt. Gen. Qi Jianguo that China and its Asian neighbors should "put aside" maritime territorial disputes and resolve their differences through dialogue and consultation.
Japan has stated that the islands are its inherent territory in terms of history and international law.
"This is not an issue we should put on the shelf. We cannot accept any claims by China over the Senkakus," Suga said.
Qi, deputy chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army, was delivering a speech at the Asia Security Summit in Singapore, signaling an apparent easing of China's stance over territorial disputes in the East and South China seas.
"We should put aside disputes, work in the same direction and seek solutions through dialogue and consultation, particularly when it comes to disputes concerning sovereignty as well as maritime rights and interests," he said, while denying this means China is making an "unconditional compromise."