The Japanese government will buy three islands at the center of bitter territorial row with China, a spokesman said Monday after a cabinet meeting.
“During the ministerial meeting today, we agreed that we will obtain the ownership of the three Senkaku islands as quickly as possible,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters, using the Japanese name for what China calls Diaoyu.
Fujimura said the government reached an accord with the Japanese landowners last Friday, but refused to reveal what price had been set. Media reports have put the deal at 2.05 billion yen ($26 million).
The decision to purchase the islands, which will be formally owned by Japan’s Coast Guard, was aimed at their “quiet and stable maintenance”, he added.
“We have confirmed the intention (to finalize the deal) with the three parties, including the Tokyo government. In terms of signing the contract, it’s still in the future tense,” he said.
Tokyo’s nationalistic governor Shintaro Ishihara had vowed to purchase the island chain, which he said should be developed to protect the integrity of Japanese sovereignty.
Beijing and Taipei both claim the archipelago, which sits on an important shipping lane and is believed to harbour valuable resources.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]