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Tokyo may soften islet stance: media

TOKYO--The Japanese government is considering adopting a more conciliatory attitude toward China in the two countries' territorial dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported Wednesday.

Japan has repeatedly insisted that it has sovereignty over the Diaoyutais, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, and that disputes over the islets do not exist, but that may change.

Citing unidentified Japanese officials, a Kyodo report said the Japanese government, while upholding its sovereignty claim, is now planning to acknowledge that China is also claiming the island chain in the East China Sea.

The report further said that the Japanese government will decide how to be more accommodating to China's claim after getting a better understanding of Beijing's attitude toward such a proposal.

Located some 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, the Diaoyutai Islands, known as the Diaoyu Islands in China, have been under Japan's control since 1972, but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

The long-simmering dispute came to a head last month after Japan nationalized the island cluster by buying three islets from their private owners on Sept. 11 in an attempt to reinforce its sovereignty claim.

The move sparked widespread protests in China that hurt Japanese businesses.

Recent research reports by major financial institutions have warned that continued squabbling between Japan and China could take a toll on Japan's economy, especially its automobile industry, perhaps prompting Japan's rethinking of its approach on the Diaoyutais.

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