News / Asia

Japan to Mobilize Coast Guard When Beijing's Ships Reach Islands

A group of disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China is seen from the city government of Tokyo's survey vessel in the East China Sea, September 2, 2012.
A group of disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China is seen from the city government of Tokyo's survey vessel in the East China Sea, September 2, 2012.
Japan says it will mobilize its coast guard when Chinese government ships reach a disputed archipelago in the East China Sea, raising the possibility of a confrontation between the two powerful Asian nations.

In a statement given to VOA Wednesday, the Japanese foreign ministry said the coast guard mobilization will happen "when the (Chinese) ships get there, or at least come closer to" the Japanese-controlled islands.

China's official news agency Xinhua previously reported that the two China Marine Surveillance ships "reached the waters around" the islands Tuesday morning as part of a plan to assert Beijing's claim of sovereignty.

Since then, Chinese state media have been silent on the ships' movements. The Japanese foreign ministry said it cannot confirm the location of the Chinese vessels.

Xinhua's earlier report said the Chinese agency responsible for the ships would "take actions pending the development of the situation." It did not elaborate.

Japan's coast guard has confronted Chinese fisherman and nationalists in the waters of the archipelago several times in recent years.

The Senkaku/Diaoyu IslandsThe Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands
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The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands
The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands
Tokyo refers to the disputed islands as Senkaku, while Beijing calls them Diaoyu. The waters around the islands contain rich fishing grounds and potential oil reserves.

Tokyo annexed the archipelago in 1895. Beijing claimed sovereignty over the islands in 1971 and called them part of Chinese territory since ancient times.

China said it sent the government ships to the archipelago in response to the Japanese government's decision to buy some of the islands from a Japanese family that has owned them for decades. Japanese officials said Tuesday the $26 million deal was aimed at keeping the islands under "peaceful and stable maintenance."

The ultranationalist governor of Tokyo had been trying to buy the uninhabited islands since April with the aim of building structures on them. The Japanese central government has pledged to maintain the status quo.

Chinese defense ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said Tuesday the military is "resolutely opposed" to Japan's nationalization of the islands. He said the Chinese military was "closely watching developments ... and reserves the right to take corresponding measures."

Japanese news agency Jiji quoted "informed sources" as saying the Chinese defense ministry's statement suggests that "hardline" anti-Japanese views are "increasing" within the Chinese military.

Taiwan also claims the disputed islands. It sent a protest note to Japan about the purchase on Tuesday.

Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara raised $18 million from private donations for his failed bid to buy the islands. Speaking Tuesday, he said the money will be kept in a fund until the central government agrees to his proposals to build docks and facilities for Japanese fishermen.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

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by: Stig from: Taiwan
September 13, 2012 3:48 PM
Well Diaoyutai (Taiwan) or Diaoyu (Chinese) or Senkaku (Chinese) this article is certainly missing a lot of information. Including that both China and Taiwan agree these belong to Taiwan, the claim first claim is certainly not 1971 ... the first protest was in 1971 due to the Okinawa reversion which seemed to overstep the Pottsdam Treaty of 1945. Where lands ceded to or occupied japan had to be returned (this included Diaoyu)... Anyways this isn't all as complex as it sounds but Japan appears to be trying to backstep from it's previous commitments to it's neighbours. And it's neighbours are not likely to give an inch after the last time Japan did this.

by: Inocencio S. Santillan C. from: Huaraz Peru
September 13, 2012 12:02 PM
I recomend to China State and Japan state to from UN. to go a peace and diplomatic way for a human solution in hes prolemes for the islands, now is not eaci to be use Modern Army technonologically danger for the life in our planet.

by: Anne
September 12, 2012 9:56 PM
It seems that Japan is on the way to war craze again. Every time in the history Japan meets economic crisis or natural disaster, it made an attemp to rob China. To Chinese people, they are robbers , killers. They robbed Diaoyu islands from China in Qing Dynasty. If the robbers can keep what they robbed long time ago as their own, the world will have no justice. Any compromise from Chinese government in Diaoyu issue will be an encouragement to Japan to rob more from China. It has been proved by the history many times. Chinese government shall not let hisotry repeat itself.
In Response

by: Dan from: USA
September 13, 2012 4:51 PM
To Godwin,
Yes, your guess is right, this article did not tell the whole truth, before 1895, this island belong to Qing Dynasty of China. In year 1895, Japan robbed this island from China.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 13, 2012 10:51 AM
Japan's claim for the island since 1895 and China's claim since 1971 which one weighs stronger in history? Unless this article did not tell us when these two countries woke from sleep to start recognizing the island, the only facts available cannot justify your allegation that Japan's a thief. Please release more information to educate us.

by: Jonathan huang from: canada
September 12, 2012 5:51 PM
we should never give a chance to Japan to threat the world again, giving they still worship those war criminals in the shrine.
Diaoyu island belongs to Taiwan, Yilan county, every single Chinese knows that! Chinese around the world will fight together for our mother land including Taiwanese, hongkongers, mainlanders and other chinese live in Singapore, Malaysia, Europe, America, Australia .......
In Response

by: Charlie from: UK
September 13, 2012 5:14 AM
If Chinese people were smart enough and knew their own history,they should have gone around and claim everything is historically theirs.Most of China is on stolen lands which belonged to others historically.Many Chinese should realise that they are the illegitimate products of wars,butchery,coercion and rapes.Their ancestors have been murdered,enslaved,violated mentally and physically,had their cultures and languages eradicated during the Hans' war of conquests.For peace's sake,learn to live in peaceful harmony with all your neighbours and respect their sovereignty and stop using.Another war wouldn't do anybody any good.Rome wasn't built in one day,but it was destroyed overnight!

by: Anonymous
September 12, 2012 5:16 PM
Now I understand why Japanese are so 。。。。。。

by: leo grand from: CHINA
September 12, 2012 12:33 PM
Its not only a problem of territory ,its really a problem whether CHINESE can beat little JAPANESE in their face .This time i bet the CHINESE government wont step back !!!
In Response

by: Steven from: USA
September 12, 2012 10:46 PM
Ya and America is Japan's ally you can't win against the most powerful navy in the world. Also Japan's navy is better then China's navy.

by: Kamikaze from: Japan
September 12, 2012 10:44 AM
How poor Chinese people are! They are forced to learn a hocus-pocus history. "Beijing called them (Senkaku islets) part of Chinese territory since ancient times."----This is funny because Chinese (Han tribe) were so often ruled by other tribes, at least by Qing tribe in recent centuries. When Japan annexed the Senkaku islets after confirming that no other countries staked their claims to the islets, China belonged to Qing tribe. So, there exists no consistency in Chinese claim. Do Chinese still claim that the whole globe has belonged to China since ancient times? We Japanese never allow unethical, greedy Chinese to invade our inherent territory.
In Response

by: henry from: India
September 12, 2012 10:16 PM
I love being Chinese myself, If we want to own something... all we have to say " Chinese territory since ancient times."
In Response

by: Anonymous
September 12, 2012 10:08 PM
Japanese are even poorer people. They were cheated by the government to fight as robbers in China in 1930s and 1940s. Now the government is cheating again. Diaoyu Islands were ROBBED from China.

Whenever Japanese government has economic problems they will consider robbing. They did it many times in the hisotry. Japan is a notorious robber in Asia. Japanese history is a history of robbery.

In Response

by: Anonymous
September 12, 2012 9:59 PM
according to your opinion, North Ireland shall be allowed to be independent as well. Mother and children may have some dispute, but mother is still the mother and children are still her children.
In Response

by: Charlie from: UK
September 12, 2012 5:31 PM
You are right that these islands never belong to China in the first place.They claim them just for the oil and gas which China didn't think that they now desperately need.For 300 years China lost its own sovereignty and was annexed into the Manchurian Qing Dynasty,together with Tibet,Mongolia,Xinjang and Taiwan.The Qing lost the first Sino-Japanese war in 1894 and ceded Taiwan to Japan.At the end of WW2 America forced Japan to hand Taiwan to China which was wrong because Taiwan was part of the Qing Dynasty,not part of China.By giving Taiwan to China,America has unwarely made the Chinese think what once belonged to the Manchurians ,are automatically theirs.That's why they went on to invade Tibet and Xinjang and claimed them to be indisputable parts of China,which is loads of rubbish.China has recently claimed Genghis Khan as a Chinese hero simply because Inner Mongolia is now under Chinese occupation. I wouldn't be supprised if one day the Chinese would claim that Central Asia and Russia are historically theirs simply because the Mongols moved their capital to China in 13th century.Japan is the only country in Asia capable of fending off a Chinese naval attack.Remember Czechoslovakia's land concession to Germany in 1938 gave Hitler the confidence to start WW2.We should not let China think that they are untouchable and invincible now that they have a strong economy and mighty armed forces.China always blame other countries for the troubles that they cause.They started the disputes and called on the others to put the disputes to one side and coperate on the explorations of the natural resources.However,they would only suggest this to areas under other countries' sovereignty,not to those areas which are under their control or occupation.It is typical Chinese hypocrisy!
In Response

by: A Chinese
September 12, 2012 4:15 PM
You probably do not know that your father, your fore-fathers were be killers. If you have even just a little history knowledge, you will know Japan has been long a invader centuries ago.

by: Imran
September 12, 2012 8:26 AM
GOD BLESS JAPAN! THE PHILIPPINES WILL SUPPORT YOU!
In Response

by: Anonymous
September 13, 2012 3:03 AM
U don't remember the War II ?
U can't remember how the Japan invade your hometown?
In Response

by: a Chinese
September 12, 2012 9:44 PM
You probably have forgotten what Japan did to your countries.

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
September 12, 2012 1:24 AM
The islets chain has been owned by Japanese citizens substancially since more than a century ago. Japanese coast guard has also been watched the sea around the ilands. The situation has not changed so much. Provoking the dispute by media seems not helpful to resolve it.

by: Anonymous
September 12, 2012 12:53 AM
THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THE ISLAND BELONGS TO CHINA
In Response

by: Anony-mouse
September 12, 2012 2:35 PM
The chinese people may have no doubt it belongs to china but unfortunately, the international community doubts that..
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