Members of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) reportedly held a meeting Tuesday to discuss the purchase of the Diaoyu Islands, after councilors were split over the proposal by Tokyo mayor Shintaro Ishihara.
By press time, no information was revealed from the meeting. The purchase could exacerbate tensions between the two countries and hurt both sides' feelings, said experts from China and Japan.
Ishihara said in April that the metropolitan government decided to buy the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, over which China has claimed sovereignty, in order to allow Tokyo to "defend" the islands, according to the Japan Times.
The plan received strong protests from China, with the Chinese foreign ministry repeatedly saying that any Japanese actions concerning the Diaoyu Islands are "illegal and invalid."
Despite the protests, Ishihara went ahead to the public to raise funds.
According to the Tokyo government's website, donations came close to 800 million yen ($10.04 million) as of Friday. But the price of the purchase was not revealed.
If the price exceeds 200 million yen, the government must obtain approval from the metropolitan assembly, according to the Daily Yomiuri. However, in an initial survey among the assembly members, who have 124 seats in total, seven supported the plan, 13 were opposed, and the others did not express their opinions, according to Japanese media.
"Still, the possibility for the approval will be high. Even if some members are not willing to vote for the purchase, they have to do so once the party committee has made the decision," said Mitsuyuki Kagami, a professor at the International Center for Chinese Studies, Aichi University, who had just exchanged views with a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo.
"I feel sorry about that. I don't support such a move, which would hurt both sides' feelings and ignite hostility toward each other," Kagami told the Global Times Tuesday over the phone.
"This kind of excessive patriotism also invites troubles for ourselves, since the tensions are detrimental to bilateral trade and cultural exchanges, and will prompt China to take more precautions against Japan," he added.
According to an opinion poll released Sunday by Fuji Television Network, about 69.6 percent of respondents said they support the purchase, while 23.8 percent disagreed.
Kagami said real opinion in Japan might be different, as many Japanese with a conscience do not stand with anti-China groups, but their voice was being overwhelmed by that of powerful minority groups.
Huang Dahui, a professor of Japanese politics at the Renmin University of China, said Ishihara's move aimed to create an international impression that the Islands belonged to Japan and to inspire national patriotism against China.
"At the same time, Ishihara has his own political intentions. Through winning widespread attention, he is trying to pave the way for creating a new party with his followers," said Huang.