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Japanese Nationalists Set Sail for Senkakus

Early yesterday morning, about 150 Japanese nationalists set sail for the disputed Senkaku island chain that has caused such friction between China and Japan over the past few days. The Straits Times:

The 20 vessels left the south-western Japanese island of Ishigaki at 8.30pm (7.30pm Singapore time), an AFP journalist on board one of the boats reported, despite anger from Beijing.

The fleet, carrying around 150 people, was expected to arrive at the archipelago, known as Senkaku in Japan and as Diaoyu in China, around sunrise (5.30am on Sunday, Singapore time).

Having landed, the activists planted Japanese flags on the disputed islands and set off an all-too-predictable diplomatic row. The Washington Post reports:

China’s Foreign Ministry protested, summoning Japan’s ambassador to voice its complaints.

“The Japanese side should properly handle the current issue and avoid seriously damaging the overall situation of China-Japan relations,” ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement.

Tokyo rejected a complaint by China’s ambassador to Japan, Cheng Yonghua, according to Japan’s Foreign Ministry.

Vice Foreign Minister Kenichiro Sasae told Cheng in a phone conversation that the protests in China were “regrettable” and urged Chinese authorities to ensure the safety of tens of thousands of Japanese citizens there, the ministry said.

There’s high tension in Asian waters, and it’s getting worse. Some officials in the concerned countries have condemned nationalist protests and island mongering, but their anxiety has been muted and drowned out by more vocal and angrier parties. That’s not a good sign.

For those keeping track of the intrigue, here’s our helpful map (click for detail):

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  • Koji fujiyama

    Please let me know where you get “150” from. If it is a wrong info, I will contact a politician here to contact you.

    Koji Fujiyama

  • Damir Marusic

    ‘150’ is from the AFP/Straits Times article, directly quoted. It seems to imply that not all 150 of the people were the activists.

  • Corlyss

    Is Japan emerging from it’s 70-year long enforced vacation from its own history? That could be highly interesting.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    This is all being driven by Chinese territorial greed and bullying against its neighbors. China which only escaped being carved up by the European powers in the 19th century because of American objections, now thinks might makes right. Chinese culture seems to have learned nothing from its history in the 19th century and the American example which rejects empire, and has become the most powerful nation in history.

  • Kris

    How needlessly provocative! Where oh where might they have gotten this ill-conceived idea from?

  • Corlyss

    @ Kris

    Japanese history?

    I’m reading Goldman’s illuminating new book on the Nomonhan crisis between Japan and Russia in 1939, while Japan was beating the living daylights out of China. Seems to me Japan is using American weakness across the foreign policy board to recover some of its own strategic interests. In the final calculation, a country cannot expect another to look out for its own best interest. Permanent interests can’t be outsourced to another player with completely different permanent interests. As America defines its strategic interests much more narrowly under the current administration of committed amateurs and Utopians, it’s every man for himself. Some are quicker to get that than others.

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