China’s provocative acts unacceptable around Japanese territory
Three Chinese fishery patrol vessels intruded into Japanese territorial waters off the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.
The intrusion took place immediately after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda indicated plans for the government to buy three of the islands. It would be natural to assume that China's move was aimed at claiming ownership of the islands to counter the Japanese government’s decision.
The act needlessly heightens tensions between the two countries, and we strongly urge China to exercise self-control.
The event took place on the very day when the Japanese and Chinese foreign ministers were to meet on the sidelines of meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia.
At the meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba referred to the Senkaku Islands issue and stated, “It is important to manage the islands in a calm and stable manner.”
On the Chinese side, some observers think the Japanese government is trying to change the status quo through national ownership by taking advantage of the moves of Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, who has announced that the Tokyo metropolitan government will purchase the islands.
That is a misunderstanding.
Whether the islands are privately owned or are the property of the Tokyo metropolitan government or the government of Japan, it makes no difference to the fact they are Japanese territory. However, if the metropolitan government buys them, it is possible that Ishihara, who takes a tough stand against China, could resort to provocative action.
To prevent unpredictable situations from arising, national ownership stands to reason.
The Chinese side should understand that in the long run, it would benefit both countries.
In the last few years, Chinese patrol vessels have repeatedly intruded into waters surrounding the islands. It is the Chinese side that should immediately stop such provocative actions.
The deterioration of bilateral relations is not in the best interest of China, either. The meeting between the foreign ministers ended with both sides asserting their positions. However, according to sources, it lasted longer than planned and was held amid a calm atmosphere.
We want to believe that the Chinese government also doesn’t want the problem to overheat.
China is also developing territorial disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea. This problem was discussed in the series of ASEAN meetings.
Amid such circumstances, once again, China’s intrusion into Japanese waters must have given international society the impression that the country is taking tough stand, and caused Southeast Asian countries to grow increasingly wary of China.
In the second half of this year, Chinese leadership is expected to undergo a major reshuffle. In a desperate attempt to solidify a domestic foothold, there is a growing tendency for China to show off its power to dodge criticism on the Internet and other media that it is “weak-kneed.”
China should realize that unless it is very careful, its behavior could cause its neighbors to view it as a threat.
If China prides itself as “a major power,” we urge it to show it can act calmly.
The Asahi Shimbun AJW
13 July 2012