Chinese ships continue to sail disputed Senkaku waters

Political observers who thought China would back off on sending its ships into Japanese territorial waters after the Liberal Democratic Party won the Lower House elections almost to weeks ago are now shaking their heads with the realization the Communist nation is pressing ahead with its incursions.

Japan’s Coast Guard this week has been monitoring three surveillance vessels that moved inside the 12-nautical mile zone around the Senkaku islands, which are controlled by Tokyo but also claimed by Beijing, which calls the five islets the Diaoyus.  China has now sent ships into Senkaku waters 19 times since Tokyo nationalized the islands in September.

Analysts say the continuous intrusions are Beijing’s way of proving it can come and go whenever it feels like it.  The Chinese upped the ante a few days ago, when a Chinese surveillance plane flew over the area, the first time that has happened since before 1958.  Japan scrambled jet fighters to respond.

State Oceanic Administration vessels belonging to China have been careful about their routes through Japanese waters, concerned, perhaps about Shinzo Abe’s declarations that there’s no room for compromise over ownership of the Senkaku islands, but at the same time insisting there could be improved relations with Beijing.  “Japan and China need to share the recognition that having good relations is in the national interest of both countries,” Abe said, noting “China lacks this recognition a little bit, and I want them to think anew about mutually beneficial strategic relations.”

This latest return to the pre-election pattern is a sign Beijing “doesn’t want to compromise and wants to keep the pressure” up, says Robert ?Dujarric, director of Temple University’s Japan Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies.  “It shows that Beijing wants to continue the confrontation,” he says, “because a new prime minister always opens up the possibility of ‘hitting the restart button’ but clearly Beijing is not interested in improving relations.”

Abe has already staked the position he wants to upgrade Self Defense Forces to make them a full blown military.