Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged Japan on Friday to recognize the existence of a territorial issue over the sovereignty of the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which China claims.
"Japan needs to recognize" there is an issue to be resolved with China over the Senkakus, Wang said in a lecture in Washington through an interpreter.
Japan has said the Senkakus are clearly an inherent part of the territory of Japan and there exists no issue of sovereignty to be resolved concerning the islets.
Wang said that China and Japan had agreed in the past to shelve the issue of sovereignty but Japan denies any such agreement, which has worsened bilateral relations.
China is ready to sit down for dialogue and negotiations but Japan should first officially recognize the existence of the sovereignty issue, the former Chinese ambassador to Japan said.
Bilateral ties between Japan and China have been strained since the Japanese government purchased parts of the Senkakus from a Japanese private owner about a year ago.
China has since sent ships into Japanese territorial waters near the islands, known in China as Diaoyu. A Chinese naval ship even locked weapon-targeting radar on a Japanese destroyer in the area earlier this year.
China began claiming the islands in the early 1970s after studies indicated there may be vast oil reserves in the surrounding sea bed. Taiwan also claims the uninhabited islets and calls them Tiaoyutai.