Sunday marked 10 years since Japan’s decision to place the Chinese-claimed Senkaku Islands under state control, and comes at a time when Tokyo says it is “extremely concerned” about Beijing’s ongoing activities around the islets. disputed.
The Senkakus, called Diaoyu by China, have posed a problem for bilateral relations since the Japanese government bought three of the islets a decade ago, including the largest island Uotsuri, from a Japanese man.
China began claiming the Japanese-administered uninhabited islets in the East China Sea in the early 1970s after United Nations studies indicated that potentially lucrative gas reserves could be located around them.
In the years since Japan’s decision to nationalize the islets on September 11, 2012, Chinese coastguard vessels have regularly entered territorial waters around the Senkakus, with the Japanese coastguard saying the incursions occurred during 40 days in 2021, a total surpassed only by that of 2013.
At the end of August, the number reached 25 days so far this year, the Japanese coast guard said. He also said the contiguous zone around the islets had been breached by Chinese navy ships on four known occasions since June 2016, including an incident in July this year.
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, told a news conference on Friday that the situation remained “unpredictable” and the country was “extremely concerned” about China’s ongoing activities in the waters around the islets.
“The fact that the Senkaku are the inherent territory of our nation is undoubtedly historical and based on international law,” Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said Friday at a separate press conference. He stressed that the situation “does not allow for complacency and we are deeply concerned”.
Behind the heightened tensions is China’s mounting militaristic pressure on Taiwan, just about 170 kilometers from the islets, and fears that a clash with the United States could lead to war reaching the southwestern Nansei Island chain. of Japan, including the Senkakus.
But the Japanese and Chinese sides are looking for options to stabilize relations as the countries mark 50 years of normalized relations on September 29. Following high-level talks in August, plans are under way for the two nations’ foreign ministers to meet in New York this month.
A meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese President Xi Jinping is also scheduled for this year. But Beijing has not softened its stance on the islets, and there is currently no expectation of a resolution of the dispute.
Category: China, Japan
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