Tokyo: The Japanese government is in talks to buy the disputed Diaoyu Islands from a family that claims to own them, media reports said Wednesday.
The central government has reached an agreement to pay 2.05 billion yen ($26.15 million) for the purchase of part of the chain of the islands in the East China Sea, reported Xinhua.
Kyodo reported that the government and the Kurihara family will exchange an official contract on the purchase possibly by the end of this month.
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Nagahama had secretly negotiated with a member of the Kurihara family Monday.
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has announced in April that the Tokyo government plans to purchase three of the five uninhabited islands.
Ishihara planned to build facilities on the islands for boat landing, but the demand was rejected by the central government.
A survey group organized by Tokyo metropolitan government arrived at waters near Diaoyu Islands and started survey around the islands Sunday morning.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Monday that China has lodged a solemn representation with Japan over the survey conducted by the Tokyo government in waters near the Diaoyu Islands.
"Any unilateral action by Japan regarding the Diaoyu Islands is illegal and invalid," Hong Lei said at a press briefing.
Hong stressed that the Diaoyu Islands have been China's inherent territory since ancient times, adding that China holds indisputable sovereignty over the islands.
China has urged Japan to handle the recent problems properly to avoid any harm to China-Japan ties.