Japan will name a set of 158 remote islands in the East China Sea, which includes a cluster of five islands that are also claimed by China and Taiwan, according to local news reports, following former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a secret visit to Beijing earlier this week.
Japan’s maritime policy department will reportedly publish the names of the 158 islands on its website later on Friday, triggering concerns about further friction between the three countries that lay claim to the disputed islands. The five disputed islands in the East China Sea belong to a cluster known as the Senkaku in Japan, or as Diaoyu in China.
The islands, which have witnessed visits from Chinese fishing vessels in recent months, are reportedly within Japan’s established maritime boundaries and will not alter them in any way, according to Associated Press.
On Wednesday, Fukuda was welcomed at an informal meeting in Beijing with Chinese government officials, including Xi, to discuss scheduling a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Xi, according to a report by Kyodo News, a Japanese news agency. The alleged meeting comes despite the East China Sea territorial disputes, as well as the topic of war crimes, having strained Sino-Japanese relations. Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, reportedly denied the meeting took place.
Abe fanned anti-Japanese sentiment in China by his controversial visit last December to Yasukuni, a shrine that houses Japanese soldiers allegedly guilty of war crimes against the Chinese. He also sent a ritual offering to the shrine this April. And, in July, he expressed a desire to meet with Chinese officials at the APEC meeting scheduled for November.
“Since there are issues, it is all the more important to have a leaders’ meeting,” Abe had said in December, according to Bloomberg.