BEIJING--In meetings with senior Chinese officials, former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama called the Senkaku Islands a "disputed area," sources said, contradicting the Japanese government's position that there is no territorial issue between the two countries.
Hatoyama met with Jia Qinglin, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Beijing on Jan. 16 after arriving in the Chinese capital the previous day for "cultural exchanges."
"It is a fact that there is a dispute taking place," Hatoyama was quoted as saying.
He told the Chinese officials that both sides should acknowledge there is a dispute over sovereignty of the islands and seek a solution to the issue, according to the sources.
Hatoyama also said it is important to return to the diplomatic position that the territorial issue is shelved, one that China maintains was agreed upon between the two countries when bilateral ties were normalized four decades ago.
The sources said Jia and Yang agreed with Hatoyama's view.
The Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea are controlled by Japan but claimed by China.
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