The government of Japan has reportedly entered negotiations for a $2 billion purchase of the Senkaku islands, which have been administered by Japan since 1895 but are also claimed by China and Taiwan, who know them as the Diaoyu and Tiayutai.
The Japan Times reports that the Kurihara family, who privately own four of the five islands and lease them to the government, would be willing to sell them into state control. They had previously been thought reluctant to sell them to anyone other than the Tokyo city government, led by mayor Shintaro Ishihara, but those negotiations broke down last month.
The fifth island is already owned by the government. It is suggested that potentially lucrative gas fields may be near the islands, which are uninhabited.