Lending clarity to the China-Japan dispute
In what closely mirrors China’s aggressive foray in the South China Sea, Japan is stirring up a storm in the East China waters. China claims that the islands were “stolen” in the first place from China. Japan steamed ahead despite the threat of China’s marine surveillance ships hovering in the waters, and despite a call for prudence, hand-delivered at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Vladivostok by China’s outgoing President Hu Jintao to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. In effect, Japan delivered a neat penny to China’s thoughts and actions.
It is believed (and the Japanese government said as much to China) that Japan’s decision was motivated by the right-wing Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara’s “proactive steps to jump start purchase negotiations with the owners” and state control was seen as the best way to “end current instability connected with private ownership”. Japan says that the city government of Ishigaki, Okinawa prefecture, has jurisdiction over the islands.
Quite like Nehru’s famous words on India’s Aksai Chin—“not a blade of grass grows there”—the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands have not a single human being. These five islets and three rock formations are land “you can’t even find on most maps”. But contending claims of the three parties—China, Taiwan and Japan—are embedded in history, a virulent nationalism, and to top it all, the economics of the seas. Moreover, the fallout of the dispute may set (an unworthy) precedent for other unresolved claims (such as Japan-Korea over
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