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Japan, China Disputing East China Sea Islands

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China and Japan are disputing the possession of three tiny uninhabited islands in the East China Sea: Minamikojima, Kitakojima and Uotsuri. The conflict began in April, as the Governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, announced he would buy the islands from “the family who owned them.” The Japanese government, seeing the potential for a dispute with China purchased the islands to keep them out of Governor Ishihara’s hands. The island group, called Sehkaku by the Japanese, Diapyu by China, have been considered by China to be a part of Chinese territory for decades, and she considers any occupation by Japan to be in breach of law. In purchasing the islands, which contained rich and untapped oil resources, the Japanese government set their value at $26.1 M.

China and Japan have a long history of disagreement. China still views Japan in the light of terrible atrocities by the island nation during WW II. China’s remembrance of an important Japanese invasion 81 years ago took the dispute over the top, and demonstrations against Japan and outsiders in general sprang up. China takes pride in her economy, and in her nationalism. With current economic downfalls, nationalism has risen in importance. China often seems to encourage anti-Japanese sentiment; in 2005, Chinese rioted in the streets over publication of a textbook which they claimed downplayed accounts of Japanese brutality.

In the current protest, Chinese demonstrators in hundreds of cities are venting their anger at Japanese-owned businesses. Hundreds of Japanese-owned 7-Eleven stores have had to cease operations, and Japanese restaurants and clothing outlets were targeted. Demonstrators also overturned Japanese cars, stormed into businesses, and set factories afire. In demonstrations at the Japanese embassy, protesters carried portraits of Chairman Mao Tse-tung and red banners, while hundreds of Chinese police guarded the embassy to monitor the crowd and promote peaceful behavior.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is taking the matter seriously. The United States and Japan have a long-standing mutual defense treaty; in the event of Japan being attacked, the United States is required to come to the aid of Japan. Panetta has met in recent days with China’s Defense Minister, Liang Guanglie, who hopes for a peaceful settlement but has reserved the right to “further action” if Japan does not “correct its mistakes.” Hong Lei, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, declared: “Any unilateral actions taken by the Japanese regarding the Diaoyu Islands is illegal and invalid. China’s will and determination to preserve its territorial integrity are resolute. We are closely monitoring the developments and will take necessary measures to defend our territorial sovereignty.” Defense secretary Panetta calls for restraint and diplomacy.

In the face of the demonstrations, China has seen commentary in state-run media calling for “rational” patriotism. The Chinese Global Times urges China not to “Turn to the dark side.”


(Photo, left ,is current and ongoing)

Ownership of the islands dates back for centuries. Guo Xiangang, Deputy Director of the China Institute of International Studies, expressed the view, “There shouldn’t be any discussion on Diaoyu Island [group]. It has always been a part of China. Japan, however, insists China lost its ownership when it lost the Sino-Japanese war in 1895. Japan sold the islands in 1932 to descendants of the original settlers. To further complicate the dispute, the United States took control of the Islands as part of Japan’s surrender; later returning them, as we withdrew from Okinawa in 1972.

Tensions rose in August, when Japan witnessed Chinese nationals raising the Chinese flag on one of the islands. The Chinese were arrested. Similar flag raising incidents took place in 1990 and in 1996.

In 2010, a Chinese fishing trawler rammed a Japanese Coast Guard vessel patrolling the disputed area.

Photos: MSN, Google maps, KYODO News

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • Reitmen24

    Due to lack of covering the most important evidence that is conclusive on this issue, This article is misleading and only justifies a series of China’s violent acts for invasion.

    China started making its claim on islands in 1971 for the first time. That’s because there was a UN report of 1970 that suggested the existence of vast reserve of oil around this Japanese islets called Senkaku.

    Until 1971, Chinese government insisted those islets had belonged to Japan by showing the fact on their map. Indeed, there is no history that those islets belonged to China before. After the UN report was publicized, China abruptly change its attitude and started an anti Japanese propaganda insisting those islets are impartial territories of China and one of their “core interests” like East Turkestan or Tibet, that China completed those invasions just several years before.

    The dispute on this islets is an extension of a series of China’s invasions of Asian countries, from East Turkestan, Tibet, South Mongolia, India, Manchuria, Bhutan, Vietnam, to the Philippines.

    China is making every effort to complete its invasions of whole Asia by getting rid of US presence. That’s why China puts a lot of energy in propaganda in the US. CNN should draw attention to this fact.

  • Be Way

    Reitman,
    One advice for you, “Go back to school and study what is the difference between fact and accusation”.

    Your comment is full of factual errors that it’s not even worth to read and reply.

  • John Lake

    There’s seems to be some dissent aimed at my article. I had so many references that my tabs ran over.
    Maybe the two cultures involved see things from alternative prospectives.
    Yes, I have tabs.

  • Hien

    Well, China wants to face one “old enemy” at the time. Beside these islands (Senkaku) are not effecting China resources transport. If China win over Japan, China gains a lot mean temp down rumpling its social unrest, buy times to recover ecnomic, make Chinese’s gov looks good in front its people, transfer power smoothly, etc…
    Deal with East Sea VN, West Philippine Sea (South East Asia Sea} even these countries are small but China shows the “neck” for them to cut. China will be thursty.
    All of problems China created for itself in South East Asia Sea. because the rope too tight it will be tear off by itself, make it loose to serve China purpose.
    Vietnam and Philippine “always” be aware of China tactic “worms is slowly eat the leaves”. Most the West including US do not understanding this trap by “Not involve dispute”. This tactic also has been using by Israel to take Palestine’s lands.
    If you look around you in the airports or public places etc… the Westerners see a chair next to one person is empty they ask so they can sit. Chinese are not, they place their belonging first and look around then sit. If someone ask Chine will say this is my place.
    This mentality apply everywhere in Chinese societies.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Hien –

    Good comment! That’s a valuable insight into the Chinese mindset. We in the West (and especially in a nation as young as America) don’t realize that China’s been at this a lot longer than anyone else.