10 yr. anniversary of China-Japan Senkaku dispute comes amid high tensions

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Sunday marked 10 years since Japan brought the Chinese-claimed Senkaku Islands under state control, and comes at a time when Tokyo says it is “extremely concerned” about Beijing’s continued activities around the disputed islets.

The Senkaku, dubbed Diaoyu by China, have been problematic for bilateral ties since the Japanese government bought three of the islets, including the largest island, Uotsuri, from a Japanese a decade ago.

File photo taken in June 2011 shows the disputed Senkaku Islands at the center of a diplomatic disagreement between Japan and China. (TBEN)

China began claiming the Japanese-controlled uninhabited islets in the East China Sea in the early 1970s after United Nations investigations indicated there could be potentially lucrative gas reserves nearby.

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In the intervening years since Japan decided to nationalize the islets on September 11, 2012, Chinese coast guard vessels have regularly entered territorial waters around the Senkakus, with the Japanese coast guard saying the raids occurred on 40 days in 2021, a total more than just against that of 2013.

At the end of August, the number has reached 25 days so far this year, the Japanese coast guard said. It also said the adjacent zone around the islets has been breached by Chinese naval vessels four times 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 remains “unpredictable” and that the country is “extremely concerned” about China’s continued activities in the waters around the islands.

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“That the Senkakus are the inherent territory of our nation is without doubt historical and grounded in international law,” Secretary of State Yoshimasa Hayashi said in a separate news conference on Friday. He stressed that the situation “does not leave room for complacency, and we are very concerned”.

Behind the heightened tensions are China’s increasing militaristic pressure on Taiwan, only about 170 kilometers from the islets, and fears that a clash with the United States could lead to war reaching Japan’s southwestern Nansei island chain, including the Senkakus. .

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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 discussions in August, plans are under consideration to bring the foreign ministers of both countries together in New York. this month.

This year will also see a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese President Xi Jinping. But Beijing has not softened its stance on the islets and no resolution to the dispute is currently expected.


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