News / Asia

    Japan Awaits China's Next Move On Disputed Islands

    The string of islands known as Senkaku islands in Japanese, and Diaoyu in Chinese (2010 file photo)
    The string of islands known as Senkaku islands in Japanese, and Diaoyu in Chinese (2010 file photo)
    Terry Wing
    Japanese patrol boats are circling a small group of islands in the East China Sea, guarding against any encroachment by Chinese ships sent by Beijing to invoke its claim of sovereignty over the islands.

    Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported Wednesday two vessels from China Marine Surveillance were at the border of Japan’s and China’s exclusive economic zones, but reported the Chinese ships were not moving toward the islands.

    China's Xinhua state news agency said the deployment was based on an action plan drawn up to protect China's sovereignty.

     “We’re nearing very dangerous territory in that sense because both countries are activating their patrol activities in the same areas,"  said Yoichiro Sato, director of the Japan-based International Strategic Studies at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University.  "The possibility of accidental incidents between the two security forces is rising with these recent activities,” he said.
     
    The Senkaku/Diaoyu IslandsThe Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands
    x
    The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands
    The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands
    Tokyo annexed the eight-island chain it calls the Senkakus in 1895, and then re-acquired them from the United States in a post-WWII treaty.  Beijing calls the island group Diaoyu, and claims it has been part of its territory since ancient times.
     
    Both capitals have ratcheted up rhetoric over the islands in recent weeks and neither side has indicated willingness to compromise.

    Nationalists have pressed for Japanese ownership, beginning with a move led by Tokyo’s Governor Shintaro Ishihara to raise enough money to buy the islands from a private Japanese owner.   
     
    On September 11, Tokyo ignored warnings by Beijing when it completed purchase of the Senkakus. 

    Geng Yansheng, a defense ministry spokesman, said on Tuesday "The Chinese government and armed forces stand firm and are unshakable in their determination to safeguard the nation's sovereignty and territory."

    China Japan Protest Aug 15, 2012China Japan Protest Aug 15, 2012
    x
    China Japan Protest Aug 15, 2012
    China Japan Protest Aug 15, 2012
    There is a potential for conflict because when nationalisms are rife, as were seeing in both China and Japan, people begin to behave extremely irrationally and that's what we’re seeing,” said Jamie Metzl, senior fellow at the New York-based Asia Society.
     
    “What needs to happen is a cooling off period followed by negotiations,” said Metzl.  “But it's very difficult to have negotiations when certain countries, most particularly China, in effect are rejecting the principles of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea.”
     
    “If international law doesn't fully apply, then the question is what does apply and it tends to be the law of the jungle,” said Metzl. 
     
    Metzl doesn’t foresee a naval conflict between China and Japan.  Most experts agree neither nation is likely to spill blood over a few uninhabited islands.
     
    The dispute is evidence of what Metzl calls a new post-American era in the Asia-Pacific region.
     
    “China is flexing its muscles to not only pressure other countries, but to test the relationship between some of these countries - particularly Japan and the United States,” said Metzl. 
     
    The United States’ position on the ownership of the islands is unclear, although it does refer to them as Senkaku. 
     
    In response to a question from a Japanese reporter this week, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland asserted the U.S. has no position on who owns the islands, but she did say Washington stands by the treaty under which they were returned to the Japanese in 1971.
     
    But the United States does have mutual defense obligations to Japan, and if China does press its claims over the islands with force, Japan would expect the United States to honor its security commitments and come to its defense. 
     
    “The U.S. will have no choice because the credibility of the alliance, not only with Japan but with other allies, will be at stake at that point,” said Sako. “The US doesn't want to put itself into that kind of situation.”

    Sato said what makes sense at this point is for the United States to deter China with a stronger verbal commitment to Japan.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora