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Protests over Senkaku Islands continue in Japan, China

Date Posted: 2010-10-28

Japan’s getting a bit testy about China’s actions in the wake of a September fishing trawler incident in the disputed Senkaku Islands of southern Okinawa Prefecture, formally making a diplomatic channels complaint to Beijing about Chinese fisheries boats traveling in the area.

Yoshito Sengoku, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, confirms the protest was made following reports by the Japan Coast Guard that two Chinese patrol boats had sailed near the group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Sengoku says the Chinese boats were within Japan’s “contiguous zone” some 33~37 kilometers north-northwest of Uotsuri Island, one of the Senkoku islets. China also has claimed the islands, which it calls the Diaoyu, since the early 1970’s.

Japan, only two days ago, adopted a position claiming no agreement was ever made with China regarding the disputed islands when the two countries normalized diplomatic relations in 1972. Den Xiaoping, China’s leader at the time of an October 1978 Japan visit, said then that such a promise had been made. Japan maintains China only began showing interest in the isolated islands after possible oil deposits were discovered in the area, leading Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai to talk with then Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka in September 1972 that the islands’ ownership was at issue.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government has said it will share a video taken of the September 7th collisions by the Chinese trawler as it tried to evade the Japan Coast Guard, but only with the House of Representatives Budget Committee. The government and the ruling Democratic Party of Japan say they have no intention of releasing the video to the general public, as it could adversely impact relations between China and Japan. DPJ leaders say the video will probably be shown only in a closed-door session.

The opposition Liberal Democratic Party’s not happy with the DPJ, and is seeking a parliamentary resolution against the Chinese actions. The DPJ has been trying to downplay the incident to avoid fueling anti-China sentiments. Thousands of Chinese have been rallying against Japan since the incident seven weeks ago, some burning the Japanese flag and damaging Japanese-affiliated stores and businesses.

Members of the Okinawa Prefecture Assembly, and also the Ishigaki Assembly, say its time they visit the Senkaku Islands and see first hand the East China Sea islands causing all the row. Ishigaki City administers the islands, and its mayor, Yoshitaka Nakayama, says he and members of the municipal assembly are ready to go visit and conduct environmental and ecosystem surveys.

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