Prime Minister vows to defend Senkaku Islands

Japan’s Prime Minister is sending strong signals he’s not going to be intimidated by Chinese actions around the Senkaku Islands in southwestern Okinawa Prefecture, vowing to defend the islands from threats from China.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says “the security environment surrounding our country is increasingly becoming more severe as we face provocation to our territorial rights.”  He’s asserting that “I will take the lead to stand up against the present danger and protect the people’s lives and assets, as well as our land, the seas and the air at all costs.”

Abe made the remarks in a fiery speech to Japan’s Self-Defense Forces on Okinawa.  He was referring to the Senkaku Islands, and China’s growing presence near the disputed islands it calls Diaoyu.  The five uninhabited islets are controlled by Japan, and were essentially nationalized last year when Japan purchased three of the islands from a private landowner.

China has been sending surveillance ships to the islands on a regular basis, and has added aircraft in recent weeks.  Japanese Coast Guard and Air Self Defense Force aircraft have both been shadowing and chasing the Chinese planes and vessels in the past few weeks.

In addition to speaking to Japanese Self-Defense Forces on Okinawa, Abe visited the Regional Coast Guard Headquarters on Okinawa.  The JCC 11th Regional Office is responsible for patrolling the Senkakus.