News / Asia

Japan Embroiled in Diplomatic Row with China, S. Korea

Chinese activists detained after landing on a disputed island are escorted by airport officials as they board a flight to Hong Kong, in this photo taken by Kyodo August 17, 2012.
Chinese activists detained after landing on a disputed island are escorted by airport officials as they board a flight to Hong Kong, in this photo taken by Kyodo August 17, 2012.
TOKYO – Japan is embroiled in a set of diplomatic crises with China and South Korea over two groups of disputed islands.  The long-standing disputes flared up as countries in the region commemorated the end of World War II.

Authorities deported 14 Chinese activists and journalists accused of illegally entering the country's territory when they landed on an island that Japan controls but China claims.

The group traveled by boat to rocky outcroppings  known in Japan as the Senkaku islands. In China and Taiwan they're called Diaoyu.

Several activists landed on one of the islands Wednesday, and Japanese authorities arrested them.

Japan and China's Disputed Islands

  • Known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese
  • Uninhabited archipelago of 8 islands  
  • Located in gas-rich area and surrounded by rich fishing grounds
  • The islands have a land area of about 6 square kilometers
Chinese authorities said the arrests were illegal and called for the immediate release of the group. Demonstrators supporting Beijing have gathered in front of the Japanese Embassy and its consulates in China.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda decided Friday to deport the activists without pressing charges.

Noda says it is "deeply regrettable" that the activists entered Japan's territorial waters and landed on one of the Senkaku islands illegally, despite repeated warnings.

Some Japanese see the deportation as an attempt to avoid additional frictions with China, a key trading partner. Japanese opposition parties have criticized the decision, saying the activists should have been punished more severely.

In separate developments, Japanese authorities want to take a territorial dispute with South Korea before the International Court of Justice (ICC).

The dispute centers on a group of islets called Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea. Seoul controls the islands but Japan claims them. 

The dispute was reignited last week, when South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited the islands, drawing a sharp protest from Tokyo.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Friday Tokyo is determined to deal with the territorial dispute calmly, under international law.

He says Tokyo proposed to the South Korean government that they take the case to the ICC within the next few days, with the aim of resolving the issue based on international law in a calm, fair and peaceful manner.

Japan needs South Korea's approval to take the matter to court. But South Korea's foreign ministry dismissed the proposal, saying the islands are unequivocally part of its territory.

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Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
August 21, 2012 4:12 AM
the united states are very happy to see these.

by: Anonymous
August 18, 2012 11:02 PM
President Vladimir Putin has NOT been in Kurir Island, but Mr. Medvedev is.

by: Sam Lee from: San Francisco Bay Area
August 17, 2012 4:53 PM
Just imagine:

* President Putin visits the Kuril Islands
* President Lee (from South Korea) visits the Dok Du Island
* Chinese Territorial Sovereignty activists (from Hong Kong, Macau & Taiwan) land on the Diaoyu Island

All happen at the same time!
In Response

by: Samurai from: Japan
August 19, 2012 4:14 AM
Just imagine! A gangster intentionally picks a quarrel with a good man on the street. He demands money or valuables. Then, he destructs the properties of the good man, if he ignores the gangster's illegal and lawless demand. Compare what Chinese are now doing against Japanese restaurants or even vehicles made in Japan with what the gangster does. Can anybody teach Chinese how to learn laws and at least ethics and manners?
In Response

by: Txa from: coco island
August 18, 2012 8:55 PM
Japan -US treaty is not useless, it's there in case WW3 break out. But for smaller wars or disputes should be solved by parties involved. You don't come to cry to the United States for every little thing. Similarly with the US-Vietnam friendship.
In Response

by: Hide from: japan
August 18, 2012 1:33 PM
Sadly, Japan is surrounded by not friendly countries.
AND, US-Japan treaty is completely useless.
In Response

by: Anonymous
August 17, 2012 9:45 PM
The 21st century kind of war, not conquering land but territorial waters.

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