ANOTHER TWIST IN THE CHINA-JAPAN ISLAND DISPUTE
The arrival of Chinese near disputed islands prompts a blunt response from Tokyo.
James R. Holmes
The Diplomat, April 25, 2013
Uncharacteristically blunt language issued forth from Tokyo on Tuesday, after the news broke that eight Chinese maritime-enforcement ships had entered the waters around the contested Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. While a Chinese presence in these waters has become commonplace in recent months, this was the largest flotilla to fly the PRC flag near the archipelago. The deployment reportedly came after Japanese nationalists ventured near the islands in small craft. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reported instructing Japanese forces "to take resolute measures against attempts to enter our territorial waters and make a landing." If Chinese personnel landed on the islets, added Abe, "then of course we will forcibly expel them."
There are a few question marks to the encounter. First consider the Chinese side. Some news reporting attributed the Chinese action to Japanese officials' recent visits to the Yasukuni Shrine. Such visits are guaranteed to raise hackles not just in China but in South Korea. It stands to reason that there may have been some link between the two events. But correlation isn't causation. Beijing made no explicit connection between Yasukuni and the Senkakus. This week's maritime incursion, moreover, differed from previous Sino-Japanese encounters only in scale, not in kind. And China's leadership has vowed to maintain a regular if not standing presence in waters that lap against the archipelago.
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