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Taiwan weighs in on Senkaku solution

Date Posted: 2012-08-10

Mounting tensions in the southern reaches of Okinawa Prefecture, where the disputed Senkaku Islands are attracting more attention from the Chinese has led the Taiwan government to offer a solution.

The Senkaku Islands, an East China Sea group of uninhabited islands not far from Ishigaki and the Yaeyama Islands, have been claimed by China and Taiwan, while Japan maintains sovereignty over the tiny islets. China’s been flexing its muscles in the islands area, sending in patrol boats and fishing vessels, prompting the Japanese government to issue warnings.

Japan’s Defense Minister was blunt, warning that Tokyo would send Japanese Self Defense Forces to the islands to protect and defend them. Satoshi Morimoto told the Chinese the sovereignty of the lands was not negotiable. Tensions have been mounting since Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has announced plans to buy the islands from their Japanese owner. Japan’s central government and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda have also expressed interest in buying the islands, several of which are now leased. Japan’s actions have prompted angry words from Beijing.

Taiwan’s President, Ma Ying-Jeou, is stepped in, trying to calm the tensions. “The recent rise in tensions due to the Diaoyutai dispute has the potential to jeopardize peace and stability in East Asia,” Ma says. He was speaking on the anniversary of a peace treaty between Japan and the Kuomintang government of the time, led by Chiang Kai Chek. “Peace and prosperity in the region have not come easily,” said Ma, “and the Republic of China never again wants to see a catastrophe such as the Second Sino-Japanese War happen here.” Ma was using Taiwan’s official name as he spoke.

Taiwan has claimed the islands, since the Kuomintang government fled from mainland China to Taiwan at the end of a civil war in 1949. Coast Guard vessels from Taiwan and Japan have nudged each other in waters near the islands, leading Taiwanese vessels to escort activists to the area. Japan has been dealing also with Chinese vessels from mainland China that have twice entered the waters in recent weeks. In 2010, Japan arrested a Chinese fishing trawler captain for entering Japanese territory near the islands, then ramming two of its Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels as he tried to leave the area.

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