Advertisements
//
you're reading...
Politics & Law

Japan, China spat over Senkaku Islands


The recent spat between Japan and China, which erupted after the nationalisation of the Senkaku Islands, shows no signs of abating.

In September 2012, the Noda Administration in Japan purchased three of the five Senkaku islands, Uotsurijima, Kita-kojima and Minami-kojima, and then nationalised them. Beijing opposed the nationalisation and claimed its ‘indisputable sovereignty’ over the Senkakus (Diaoyu in Chinese).

It also termed Japan’s unilateral move in nationalising the islands as illegal and invalid. Tokyo, however, asserted that the islands have been historically part of Japanese territory. It also alleged that China started claiming sovereignty over the Senkakus only after a 1968 UN Commission reported possible undersea deposits nearby.

In the meantime, Taiwan, another claimant to the islands, took an equally strong stance against Japan’s nationalisation and alleged that it was an infringement upon its own sovereignty over these islands.

Because nationalisation appeared as intended to demonstrate Japan’s uncompromising stance on sovereignty over the Senkakus, it evoked large-scale anti-Japan protests within China. Chinese protesters attacked the Japanese embassy and vandalised Japanese-affiliated business establishments.

The tension between the two countries seemed to heighten further during this period, as the Japanese Coast Guard vessels and Chinese surveillance ships continued to square off against each other in the waters near the Senkakus. The Chinese government’s recent support for Taiwanese fishing boats and patrol vessels to enter the waters off the Senkakus has worried many Japanese.

The emphatic statement made by Jia Qinglin, one of the key figures of China’s communist party, about the urgency of forming a China-Taiwan united font vis-à-vis Japan has made Tokyo wonder if both China and Taiwan are actually working in tandem.

In the meantime, Beijing’s persistent attempt to internationalise the Senkaku issue has evoked a strong response from Tokyo. While during the China-EU Summit in Brussels, Wen Jiabao was emphatic about the necessity of taking ‘strong measures’ on the issue, Xi Jinping accused Japan of staging ‘the farce’ of purchasing the islands.

Then, at the recent UN General Assembly meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi alleged that Japan “stole” the islands from China after the 1895 Sino-Japanese War. China even abstained from sending its representative to the plenary session of the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group scheduled in Tokyo from October 14.

In a nautical chart submitted to the United Nations by the Chinese government recently, Beijing even identified the areas around the islands as its own ‘territorial waters’.

In the face of increasing demand from the Japanese public to assert Japan’s own stance on the issue, the Noda Administration also has taken certain measures to appeal to the international community. The Japanese Foreign Ministry has, in its home page, developed a new banner labelled as “Japan-China Relations: Current Situation on the Senkaku Islands”.

For the next fiscal year, it has already requested 600 million yen for public relations, investigation and research over Japan’s territorial integrity, including the Senkakus. Tokyo is also considering lobbying for international support by dispatching the Foreign Ministry’s top key parliamentary ministers, including Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, to relevant countries to explain Japan’s stance on the Senkakus.

The spat between Japan and China has trampled on the cooperative relations that they have nurtured over many years. This has, in particular, adversely affected their strong economic ties. The delay in the resumption of operations in several Japanese factories in China and the Chinese government’s lack of initiative to compensate them for the damage caused during the demonstrations have made Japanese business houses wary about their investments in China.

There is no doubt that Japan’s investment in China, which reached a total of US $6.3 billion in 2011, might drop significantly in the coming months if the current tension drags on. From January to September 2012, China’s trade with Japan reportedly fell 1.8 per cent compared with a year earlier. If the spat pushes some of the Japanese-affiliated companies in China to close down their factories and shift them to other Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand, the employment of several million Chinese workers in those companies would pose a major challenge to the Chinese government.

As China is Japan’s biggest trading partner, economic turmoil in China is bound to have a negative impact on the Japanese economy. China has also been the biggest export market for Japanese businesses. Thus, in September 2012, as China’s imports from Japan plunged 9.6 per cent, it had a strong impact on the Japanese economy.

To avoid further deterioration in the bilateral relationship, both Japan and China need to now abandon their hard-line stance and stop escalating nationalistic sentiments among their people. However, a resolution of the issue through peaceful means has become complicated due to strong political pressure within the two countries.

Due to the upcoming general election in Japan and the leadership transition in China, both the DPJ in Japan and the CCP in China are apprehensive about hurting popular sentiments by adopting a compromising stance on the Senkaku issue. The CCP leadership has been particularly concerned about taking any step during the ongoing 18th party congress (November 8-14), since it might trigger a nation-wide revolt against its rule.

As far as Japan is concerned, any relaxation in the ruling DPJ-led government’s stance vis-à-vis China might prove disastrous for the party’s prospect in the upcoming general election, expected to be held in 2013.

Under these circumstances, China and Japan have not been able to hold any meaningful dialogue to resolve the current impasse. Since any further delay in resolving the issue might aggravate bilateral tensions further, the two governments need to focus on softening their attitudes towards each other, promote people-to-people contact, encourage cultural activities and revive and strengthen their economic ties.

At the same time, the United States, along with other regional powers in East Asia, needs to take an initiative to create a conducive environment for China and Japan to hold a meaningful dialogue to heal their fraught relationship.

By Pranamita Baruah. Originally published by Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses at Japan-China spat over the Senkakus shows no sign of abating

About the author:   The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) is a non-partisan, autonomous body dedicated to objective research and policy relevant studies on all aspects of defence and security. Its mission is to promote national and international security through the generation and dissemination of knowledge on defence and security-related issues. IDSA has been consistently ranked over the last few years as one of the top think tanks in Asia.Source.

Advertisements

About Political Atheist

Living in South East Asia (Vietnam & Cambodia). At the ending/starting point of the more than 1000 year old SIlk Road.

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Japan, China spat over Senkaku Islands

  1. Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

    Like

    Posted by OyiaBrown | November 23, 2012, 5:40 pm
  2. Fantastic site. Lots of useful info here. I am sending it to several pals ans also sharing
    in delicious. And certainly, thank you for your sweat!

    Like

    Posted by Florene | May 10, 2013, 10:28 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: US Senate’s backing for Japan’s control of Diaoyus attacked « China Daily Mail - December 2, 2012

  2. Pingback: China remembers Nanking massacre, while sending aircraft to patrol Senkaku Islands « China Daily Mail - December 14, 2012

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Advertisements

China News Stories

China News Stories is not affiliated in any way with any publication in China or anywhere else.

Enter your email address to receive an email each time an article is published, or join our RSS feed. 100% FREE.

Follow us on Twitter

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Want to write for China News Stories?

Read “Contributor Guidelines” above to join our team of 76 contributors. Write news or opinion about issues in China, or post photos and video. Promote your own site.

Recent Posts

China News Stories Have Been Featured In:

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: