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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid