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Why would this Japan-China island dispute be Asia’s next military flash point?

Both Tokyo and Beijing claim the deserted islands known as Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyus in China as themselves, but Japan has ruled them since 1972.

Tensions on the rocky chain 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) southwest of Tokyo have been boiling for years, and with claims dating back hundreds of years, neither Japan nor China will take a step back in lands that are considered a national right of birth in both capitals.

In this regard, the islands are no different from the rocky heights of the Himalayas, where decades of tensions erupted on a poorly defined border between the territory of China and India, where Monday exploded and collapsed a conflict that cost the lives of at least 20 Indian soldiers.

While deadly, the war was relatively limited – and the two sides spoke tensions in the days after that.

However, an unexpected exacerbation in Senkaku / Diaoyus can trigger a military conflict between China and the USA.

Because the United States has a mutual defense agreement with Japan. If Japanese lands are attacked by a foreign force, the US is responsible for defending it.

Stating that Chinese government ships have been seen in waters near Senakaku / Diaoyu Islands every day since mid-April, Japanese coast guard officials have increased fear of possible conflicts last week and set a new record for the number of consecutive days.

On Friday, these landscapes had reached 67 consecutive days.

Taking unstable postures

In response to China’s growing presence, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga reconsidered Tokyo’s decision at a press conference last Wednesday.

“The Senkaku Islands are under our control and undisputably our territory historically and under international law. The continuity of these activities is extremely serious. We will answer the Chinese side tightly and calmly.” Said.

In a statement Friday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry repeated the feelings of the Japanese government from a reverse perspective.

“Diaoyu Island and its islands are a part of the nature of Chinese territory, and it is our intrinsic right to conduct patrols and law enforcement officers in these waters.”

Similar comments posted in China the state-run Global Times newspaper. In the report entitled “Japanese conservatives break the rescue of China-Japan relations through the Diaoyu Islands dispute,” the Japan’s Okinawa province was criticized by attempts to change the administration of the islands, stating that it could seriously damage Japanese-Chinese relations.

The movement proposed by the Ishigaki city council on the surface of the islands seems to be quite harmless.

According to Asahi Shimbun in Japan, the council wants to separate the islands from the crowded areas of Ishigaki island to facilitate administrative practices.

However, in the decision before the City Council of Ishigaki, the city “claims that the islands are part of the Japanese territory.”

A language listed in Beijing.

“Changing the administrative appointment now can make the dispute more complicated and increase the risk of crisis,” Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the University of China, told the Global Times. Said.

The voting in Ishigaki is expected at a council meeting Monday.

Before last week, the latest “crisis” on the islands occurred in 2012.

That year, Japan expropriated the privately owned islands to make a planned sale to Tokyo’s then governor, a tough nationalist who hoped to develop the islands.

People take photos of a Japanese car damaged during a protest against the nationalization of Japan. The controversial Diaoyu Islands, also known as Senkaku Islands in Japan in Xi, China on September 15, 2012.
The plan sparked major and unusual street protests across China, which underpinned nationalist sentiment.

The protesters wrecked at the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, searched for Japanese shops and restaurants, and the demonstrations got worse as it knocked over Japanese cars.

In a precise example of how the islands get involved in Chinese consciousness, a Chinese man was beaten into a coma by other citizens just because he used a Toyota Corolla.

Controversy

China says its claim to the islands dates back to the 1400s when used as a marriage point for the Chinese fisherman.

However, Japan said in its 1885 survey that China did not control the islands, so it officially recognized them as the Japanese sovereign region in 1895.

According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, a group of settlers produced dried fish and gathered feathers, at some point the islands have more than 200 inhabitants.

Japan then sold the islands to the descendants of the original settlers in 1932, but the factory failed in 1940 and the islands were eventually abandoned. II in 1945. The surrender of the Japanese at the end of the World War only served to blur the matter further.

The islands were ruled by the US occupation force after the war. In 1972, however, Washington sent them back to Japan as part of his withdrawal from Okinawa.

A shattered Japanese 'Rising Sun' was placed on the dead fish over the controversial Senkaku / Diaoyu island chain during a demonstration in Taipei on September 14, 2010.

Self-governing Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a Chinese province, also claims to own the chain.

Objections to the administrative reclassification of the islands in Taiwan show the depths of islands hooking their claimants.

Tsai Wen-yi, a city council member in Taiwan’s Yilan County, said that if the Japanese change passes, he will organize a fishing fleet to “defend” the islands from Japan. A report from the Taipei Times.
Japanese Land Defense Forces & # 39; Amphibious assault vehicles hit the beach during an amphibious landing exercise in the Philippines in 2018.
The defense of Senkaku / Diaoyus has been a priority of the Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) over the past few years. Foreign Relations Council Tokyo recently built new military bases to protect the islands. JSDF is also building seafarers and drilling in the island war.

According to CFR, although the islands are non-settled, there are relevant economic interests.

“The islands have potential oil and gas reserves, close to major transport routes and surrounded by rich fishing areas,” says the islands.

What can trigger a conflict?

William Choong, a senior member of the ISEAS-Yusof Isaac Institute, in Singapore, says that everything is potentially troubling

“Compared to other flash points in the region – the weapons programs of the South China Sea, Taiwan and North Korea – the East China Sea combines a unique and flammable mix of history, honor and region.” Choong wrote to Tercuman this monthIs the blog of the Lowy Institute in Australia.
Asia Marine Transparency Initiative (AMTI) draws a script Something that can be easily seen – the crew of a ship with disabilities or landing on one of the islands – can turn into a serious international event.
Small islands that could blow up the Sino-Vietnamese relationship

“When Chinese fishing crews, coast guards or military members landed in Senkakus, Japan Coast Guard would undoubtedly try to lift them in a law enforcement action. But if China does not recognize Japan’s claims, it is absolutely possible. Beijing could lead to a serious military intervention from China. could see it as an ascension, “says the AMTI website.

In the current climate in Indo-Pacific, China shows it is ready to push its claims. For example, in the South China Sea, China carried the planes to the man-made islands it built; one Vietnamese fishing boat sank and another rammed; He harassed a survey ship hired by Malaysia and sent one of his own ships to the waters claimed by Indonesia; In the past few weeks alone, Chinese fighter jets have been warned at least five times by Taiwanese fighters.

With an ironic look at what was happening in the East China Sea, Beijing reclassified the island claims in the South China Sea and gave the Spratly / Nansha and Paracel / Xisha islands more important status in the country’s government hierarchy.

Then there is the India-China border in the Himalayas. Before and after the deadly clash last Monday, the state-run Chinese media were heavy with stories and images of Beijing’s new military equipment that it could carry in the mountains.

Choong argues that it would not be wise to think that Senkakus / Diaoyus was not marked for similar attention at some point.

“The question is that China, which is the target of the full court press of America, does not ask if China wants to challenge Japan on the islands. When and how? The question is what keeps Japanese (and American) policymakers awake at night,” Choong wrote.

CNN’s Junko Ogura, Kaori Enjoji, Shawn Deng and Katie Hunt contributed to this report.

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