Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi on December 27, Monday said that his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe has agreed to start operating a hotline between their defence officials as tensions between the two nations escalated over disputed islets in the East China Sea in the recent months. At a state press conference, Kishi said that he held a video conference call with his Chinese counterpart, where the latter acknowledged that peace and stability are vital for Japan's security. Bilateral ties between Japan and China are thwarted as Beijing reasserts territorial claims on the disputed Senkaku Islands. Tokyo on Monday stressed that it will closely monitor developments there, according to Nikkei Asia. "We need candid communication to foster mutual understanding," Kishi said.
"We confirmed that the early establishment of a hotline between Japanese and Chinese defence authorities is important," the Japanese news agency Nikkei Asia quoted Kishi as saying earlier yesterday.

The Japanese minister expressed "extreme grave concern” over routine incursions by the Chinese coast guard ships in the disputed waters surrounding the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, which Beijing calls Diaoyu.

China Will 'Firmly Safeguard Its Territorial Sovereignty', Wei Asserted

According to a Chinese Defence Ministry, Minister Wei told his Japanese counterpart, Kishi, that China will "firmly safeguard its territorial sovereignty as well as maritime rights and interests" over issues surrounding the Senkaku Islands. He also categorically stressed that the two nations must "jointly manage and control risks” as well as lay focus on improving bilateral relations. Maintaining stability in the East China Sea is critically important for both nations, Wei was quoted as saying after the phone call that lasted for about two hours. The establishment of a hotline for defence personnel of both countries will enhance the communication mechanism and will avert any territorial or maritime dispute on the contested island.

"Since there are (unresolved) issues with China, we need to try and keep having candid communication so we can promote exchanges and foster mutual understanding and confidence," Kishi said, according to Nikkei. The Japanese minister also "strongly demanded '' China to give an explanation about its new coast guard law, implemented on Feb. 1 that allows the Chinese coast guard to deploy weapons against foreign ships sailing in Chinese territorial waters. Japan had also earlier pushed for "stable relations" between Washington and Beijing, adding that the Japanese government would keep a careful eye on the growth of relations between the two countries.