dispute sowed by US
propaganda on the islands falls into US strategies to create and take advantage
of tension in East Asia
Zhaokui (China Daily)
Islands dispute was a disruptive mine planted by the United States into
Sino-Japanese relations nearly four decades ago.
When the US
decided to return the occupied Okinawa to Japan in 1972, the Diaoyu Islands and
adjacent islets, which belong to China, were also handed over to Tokyo. In so
doing, the US wanted to prevent China and Japan from getting too close and
bring ties between the two countries under its control. Washington's viciously conceived
move, a tactic often employed by imperialists, proved useful in serving its
interests in the past decades.
disputes between China and Japan over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands
have given rise to frequent friction between the two countries and have become
a drag on their bilateral relations.
visit to Japan for the signing and exchanging ceremony of the Sino-Japanese
Treaty of Peace and Friendship in December 1978, a milestone document in
Sino-Japanese relations, then Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping successfully pushed
the two countries to agree to "shelve bilateral disputes for a common
development" on the Diaoyu Islands issue. The consensus became a de facto
principle that China and Japan abided by in the following years.
Japan has time and again taken measures aimed at putting the Diaoyu Islands
under its control since the 1990s. The Japanese government has often tried to
instill into Japanese people the concept that the islands, which are called
Senkaku within Japan, are an indisputable part of Japanese territory. The use
of the propaganda machine for such a purpose has been so frequent that those in
Japan who admit that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China have become the
minority in the country. Disputes about the sovereignty of the islands have
even become a taboo subject for the Japanese.
governors' meeting held in late May, when Japanese media made an outcry over
the "buildup" of the Chinese navy and the so-called pursuit of a
Japanese survey ship by a Chinese oceanographic survey vessel, Shintaro
Ishihara, the governor of Tokyo who is notorious for his anti-Chinese remarks,
challenged then prime minister Yukio Hatoyama's policy in this region.
the Japan-US Security Pact applicable in the case of military conflicts in the
waters surrounding the Senkaku?" Shintaro asked. After telling the mayor
that the Japan-US security pact applies to the islands, Hatoyama added that the
ownership of the Diaoyu Islands should be resolved through negotiations with
China. Derogative remarks were made at Hatoyama and some Japanese media
described Hatoyama's position as isolated. A number of netizens even denounced
Hatoyama as a prime minister who would cause Japan to perish.
In a recent
showdown between Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Ichiro Ozawa, the former
head of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), for the party leadership, both
played the China card. Pointing to Japan's disputes with China over the
sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands, Ozawa even claimed that the islands have
never been China's territory since ancient times. Kan also said he believed
that the activities by China's naval forces in the waters off Japan should
require Japan's vigilance and that Tokyo should deploy self-defense forces in
its southwestern islands to guard against possible threats.
eyes, Diaoyu Islands or Senkaku is part of Japanese territory and that, to
them, has become a widely recognized fact among the Japanese. Guarding against
China's naval activities in this maritime area therefore serves Japan's
national interest. Following this logic, winning public approval on this issue
has been regarded by Kan and Ozawa as an important weapon to gain votes.
and Ozawa believe that the acquisition of the Diaoyu Islands and adjacent
islets, whose surrounding maritime waters are rich in resources, by a Japan
that has insufficient resources, will be of great significance to Japan's
maritime and resource strategy.
run-up struggle for DPJ leadership, Kan and Ozawa have said they would inherit
Hatoyama's unveiled proposal to build the East Asian community. However,
Japan's tough stance on the recent collision between its patrol vessels with a
Chinese fishing boat in the waters off the Diaoyu Islands has obviously
contravened the common consensus reached with China that the East China Sea
will be built into a sea of peace and cooperation. Tokyo's stance will only
escalate tensions with Beijing over the Diaoyu Islands and will likely foil its
efforts to construct the East Asian community, a target that will better serve
Japan's long-term national interests.
politicians should not place personal or partisan interests over the larger
interest of peace and stability in East Asia. It is particularly unwise to
pursue political capital by taking advantage of territorial disputes with China
and fueling national confrontation between the two neighbors.
It is in
Japan's national interests if its politicians take an honest and pragmatic
approach toward the Diaoyu Islands and conduct active, pragmatic and peaceful
consultations with China.
and Japan can share abundant natural resources in the East China Sea, extricate
themselves from the long-standing shackles of territorial disputes as soon as
possible and convert potential resources in this area into wealth to realize a
is a researcher with the Institute of Japanese Studies under the Chinese
Academy of Social Sciences.
Может ли Япония защитить свои острова от Китая?
TOKYO – The
USS Hawaii, a nuclear-powered attack submarine, arrived earlier this month at
Yokosuka, home port of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, one more asset in America’s
naval buildup in Northeast Asia, which can be viewed as a direct result of Chinese assertions of
hegemony over the East China and South China Seas.
three Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines surfaced more or less
simultaneously at Pusan, South Korea, Subic Bay in the Philippines and Diego
Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The three are converted Trident missile submarines,
having been stripped of their intercontinental ballistic missiles and stuffed
with Tomahawk cruise missiles - 140 per sub – armed with conventional warheads.
is part of new class of attack submarines that are configured to operate in
shallow, near-shore waters. As the submarine’s captain was happy to tell the
Pacific Stars and Stripes newspaper on arrival, the sub has the ability to
maintain a “persistent presence off shallow waters.”
it be important to operate in shallow, near-shore waters? Take out an atlas and
trace the string of islands that stretch for more than a thousand kilometers
from the southern tip of Kyushu through Okinawa nearly as far as Taiwan - all
are Japanese, although the southern-most is disputed by China.
There is a
gap in this island chain between Okinawa and the Japanese island of Miyako
known as the Miyako Channel. It is wide enough to provide an avenue of
international waters through the island chain, and is the principal gateway
through which the Chinese navy can pass through on its way to open sea.
Channel is becoming one of the most sensitive maritime flashpoints in the
world, along with the Malacca Strait, the Strait of Hormuz and the Taiwan
Strait. It may be even more sensitive than the Taiwan Strait, as the U.S. and
other navies avoid passing through it unless they are trying to be deliberately
other hand, the Miyako Strait is where the U.S., Chinese and Japanese navies
grind together. Last April, a Chinese navy flotilla passed through the channel
on the way to open sea. It was shadowed by Japanese destroyers, which in turn
were buzzed by Chinese helicopters, prompting Tokyo to make a formal protest
about the harassment of its ships.
awakening to the fact that its extreme southern flank is basically undefended
and open to invasion. For years, most of Japan’s ground forces were deployed in
the northern island of Hokkaido to guard against a Russian invasion. Gradually,
Tokyo has been redeploying its troops to the west and south.
accelerate as Beijing is becoming more aggressive in asserting its hegemony
over nearby waters, not just traditionally recognized territorial waters but
the entire South China, East China and Yellow Seas. The Chinese strongly
objected to the presence of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington in the
Yellow Sea in joint U.S. and South Korean naval exercises.
and Seoul moved the maneuvers to the Sea of Japan opposite the east coast of
South Korea in deference to Beijing, but the ship may enter the Yellow Sea soon
for another series of exercises with the South Korean navy.
China and Japan are embroiled in a growing diplomatic dispute over the
southern-most of these islands, which are called the Senkaku by the Japanese
and Diaoyu by the Chinese. The two countries dispute ownership. The islands are
uninhabited but controlled by the Japanese, whose Coast Guard vessels regularly
shoo away intruders.
In a recent
incident, the Coast Guard boarded and arrested the crew of one Chinese fishing
ship, which it claimed had deliberately rammed their vessels. Tokyo released
the crew but still detains the captain. Beijing has protested loudly, postponed
meetings aimed at sharing natural gas resources in the East China Sea and
cancelled planned diplomatic meetings.
caught Tokyo at an awkward time, as Japan was in the middle of an internal
party election to confirm Prime Minister Naoto Kan in office. It will fall into
the lap of newly named Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, who replaced Katsuya
Okada after he was elevated to be the Secretary General of the Democratic
recently extended its ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone), whereby aircraft
entering must identify themselves, further south almost to Taiwan. The
government is considering stationing token forces on Miyako and possibly other
islands. “Defending strong points in the Sakishima chain (southern-most islands)
is very important,” said Defense Minister Toshima Kitazawa.
December, the Japanese self defense forces will hold their first ever maneuvers
simulating the recapture of remote islands from an occupier. The Japanese navy,
in turn, is already well-equipped with amphibious assault ships to bring troops
to the battlefield if necessary.
even been some discussion of creating a Japanese “Marine Corps," although
not as an elite independent service as it is in the U.S. The defense ministry
would designate a regiment or even a division for special training in Marine
Corps-like activities, such as amphibious assaults.
developments put the presence of the U.S. Marine Expeditionary Force on Okinawa
in a new light. Who is better equipped or trained to recapture isolated
islands? Former premier Yukio Hatoyama came to recognize the deterrent value of
the U.S. Marines on Okinawa, although too late to save his job.
successor as prime minister says his government will honor the agreement with
Washington to close the Futenma Marine Air station and build a new air base for
the Marines at another less crowded location on the island. It is still likely
to continue to run into political opposition from the island.
threat of China seizing any of these islands by force realistic? One could
equally ask how realistic it was to expect the Russians to invade Hokkaido.
Militaries plan for contingencies, and who is to say that in the future some
Chinese leaders won't decide that “historical documents” dating back to the
Ming Dynasty “prove” that these islands are really Chinese territory and try to
Crowell covered Tiananmen as Chief of Correspondents for Asiaweek. He comments
on Asian affairs at Asia Cable (www.asiacable.blogspot.com).