Tokyo’s meddling hampers settlement of Senkaku dispute

April 19, 2012

Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro on April 16 suddenly proclaimed Tokyo’s willingness to buy the Senkaku Islands at a lecture meeting in Washington.

At a press conference held after the lecture, he reportedly showed his political motivation by blatantly saying, “Interesting, isn’t it? I’m showing up the national government because it hasn’t done anything.” (Asahi Shinbum on April 18)

No matter how unhappy he is with successive Japanese governments in dealing with the issue concerning the Senkaku Islands, Tokyo, which is after all just a local government, can neither call for the purchase of the Senkakus nor interfere in the ongoing diplomatic process between Japan and China.

In order to solve the Senkaku problem, the need is for Japan to state the Chinese government and to the international community that Japan has the legitimacy of possessing the islands from a historical and international viewpoint based on international law.

When a disagreement emerges between two countries, it is important to avoid turning it into a political issue. Countries concerned should work on the disagreement through peaceful and diplomatic engagement.

During a Japan-China summit meeting in December last year, the two governments called for “[p]romoting the Cooperation for making the East China Sea a ‘Sea of Peace, Cooperation and Friendship’.”

Tokyo Governor Ishihara says that he “will protect the Senkakus (from China),” but his belligerent assertions only complicate the issue further and hamper the quest for a peaceful settlement through diplomatic means.

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