Japan will not compromise with China disputed on disputed islands in the East China Sea since it already has sovereignty over them, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda declared Wednesday after China's foreign minister angrily declared the islets were "sacred territory."
"As for the Senkakus, they are an inherent part of our territory in light of history and also under international law," Noda said of the rocky islets China claims as the Diaoyus, Reuters reported.
"There are no territorial issues as such. Therefore, there cannot be any compromise that represents a retreat from this position," he told a news conference in New York after attending the U.N. General Assembly.
Earlier Wednesday, Chinese state media said China had claimed the tiny, uninhabited and remote islands as its "sacred territory since ancient times" in talks between the two countries' foreign ministers in New York.
Relations have worsened sharply since the Japanese government bought the islands from their private owner, hurting bilateral trade ties and tourism while sparking protests across China.
Noda defended his government’s purchase of some of the islands as an attempt to ensure their “stable management” but conceded “it seems that China has yet to understand that,” the Associated Press reported.
In hourlong talks on the sidelines of the United Nations on Tuesday night, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba urged China to exercise restraint over the dispute. Japanese diplomats described the meeting as "tense," as Gemba endured a stern lecture from Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told a news conference in Tokyo the two sides had agreed to keep talking.