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Panetta Urges Calm Over China-Japan Islands Dispute

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is in Beijing, urging calm as tensions between Japan and China over a group of disputed islands continue to grow.

Panetta called for more contact between government officials to "reduce the potential for miscalculation."

Panetta's visit came as China marks the anniversary of the Mukden Incident of 1931 that Japan used as a pretext to invade Manchuria.

Protests against Japan were reportedly held in more than 100 cities in China on September 18.

Adding to tensions, two Japanese activists landed briefly on one of the islands that are the cause of the territorial dispute between Japan and China.

Japan's government said last week it had reached a deal with the private owner to purchase the islands, which Japan calls Senkaku and China calls Diaoyu.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP