The owners of the Senkaku Islands said they’ll continue negotiations with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which has initiated plans to purchase the islands, following the central government’s announcement that it will consider the same course of action, Wall Street Journal reports.

Hiroyuki Kurihara, the brother of the islands’ owner spoke at a news conference in Tokyo, “The starting line of our negotiations was within the government of Tokyo, and at present we are proceeding (with our) discussions with them. Regarding the role of the national government, it’s not the policy of this family to suddenly switch partners because somebody appeared on the scene. That would be rude,” he said.

The Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan but are also claimed by China and Taiwan, the dispute serving as a flashpoint in the countries’ relations. Shintaro Ishihara, Tokyo’s Governor, announced in April the local government’s plan to purchase three of the islands, criticizing the central government’s ‘soft’ stance towards the Chinese claims.

Mr. Kurihara told the Journal that his family bought the islands from Zenji Koga, a close friend whose family managed the islands since the Meiji period. He said the family decided to sell the islands because of old age and lack of heirs. “We had the similar belief that property, and tradition, should be handed down the family line.” He added that “my brother is 70-years old, and he has no children. I believe he wanted to hand over the islands to the next generation while he was still alive and healthy.”