By TONY LEE and YUKO KAWASAKIKANPROPOSAL A pair of Japanese and South Korean ministers have agreed to ease tension over disputed territory between the two countries and the South Korean government has said it will seek to buy the islands in return for a $50 million loan.
Japan and South Africa have been locked in a decades-old territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands, which were handed to Japan after it conquered the islands from the British.
The Spratlys, which are part of the South China Sea, are among a series of islets claimed by China.
The islands, which lie just outside the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Japan and Singapore, are claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The countries have been trying to resolve their disputes by buying islands and reefs, and a joint government statement on Tuesday said the two sides were “closely monitoring the progress of negotiations”.
“We hope to complete the sale of the Sprats and the Sprati Islands in the coming weeks,” the statement said.
The deal with South Korea is the latest effort by Japan and Seoul to revive their bilateral ties following years of tension over the disputed islands, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.
China is also pursuing territorial claims in the South Sea, which Beijing calls the South and the East China Seas.
Japan says its claims are not based on historical fact, but rather its sovereign right to claim the area, which is claimed by Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Bruneii and Malaysia.
The two countries also have competing claims over the Senkakus, which have been disputed by China and Vietnam since the 1950s.