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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 07:42 GMT 08:42 UK
No progress in China-Japan talks
Kenichiro Sasae, director of the Asia and Oceania Bureau at Japan's Foreign Ministry, (L) and Nobuyori Kodaira, head of Japan's Energy Resource Agency, (R) 31 May  05
The talks came at a sensitive moment in Japan-China relations
China and Japan have failed to make progress in resolving a bitter dispute over gas fields in the East China Sea.

Japan said China had refused its request to stop exploring the gas fields, as talks on the issue ended in Beijing.

However, the two sides did agree to meet again, a Japanese official said.

The talks follow weeks of rising tensions between Japan and China, amid rows over history textbooks, Japan's bid for a UN seat and energy.

Japan and China are increasingly being seen as rivals for natural resources to feed their economic growth.

China and Japan's exclusive economic zones (EEZs) coincide
Have never agreed a maritime border
Also dispute ownership of Senkaku/Diaoyu islands

During the talks, Japan also turned down a Chinese proposal for joint development of the gas fields, the Japanese official said.

Both sides dispute the maritime borders in the East China Sea, and they both also claim islands within this disputed zone.

The two days of talks mark the second time China and Japan have met on the issue, following a single day of negotiations in Beijing in October.

These latest discussions come just a week after Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi cancelled a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Tokyo, because Japanese leaders repeatedly referred to Japan's controversial Yasukuni war shrine during her visit.

China is extremely sensitive over the way Japan approaches and presents what happened between the two countries during World War II, when Japan invaded China and ruled part of the country.

Violent anti-Japanese demonstrations flared in several cities across China last month, sparked by allegations that new Japanese text books glossed over the country's abuses during the period.

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