SENKAKU ISSUE FALLS HARD FROM THE SHELF
The Japan Times, September 30, 2012
Tanaage, which means to put something on the shelf, is a term that pops up often in the coverage of the current imbroglio over the islands that Japan calls the Senkakus. There is disagreement over when China, which calls the islands Diaoyu, started insisting they were its territory, but in any case the two countries didn't confront each other with their respective claims until the 1970s. Japanese hardliners say the Chinese became possessive about the rocks in the East China Sea only when they determined there were valuable resources under them, while the Chinese say they've been visiting them before Japan was a twinkle in the goddess Amaterasu's eye.
But around 1978 the matter was "put on the shelf" in accordance with an unspoken understanding that China would continue claiming the islands for itself while tacitly acknowledging that Japan "realistically controlled them," to quote China-based freelance journalist Yoshiko Furumae in the Tokyo Shimbun. Japan could then assert to the void that there is no territorial problem.
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara effectively knocked the matter off the shelf when he offered to buy the islands from its Japanese owners on behalf of Tokyo, a move that prodded the national government to make its own offer, thus not only inflating the price of the rocks from ¥500 million to a staggering ¥2 billion, but also causing China to lose face, since the deal was sealed the day after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Chinese President Hu Jintao held a secret meeting at the APEC conference in Vladivostok, where Noda didn't even mention the pending purchase. Hu was furious.
(...) [article here]