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Protests across China, Japanese Diplomatic Shake-up

The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands dispute between China and Japan is heating up. The biggest anti-Japan protests in years erupted in China this weekend in response to 150 Japanese activists who attended a commemoration for Japan’s war dead there, reports the Financial Times:

Chinese protestors gathered in dozens of cities, in some cases vandalising Japanese-made cars and retail outlets. About 1,000 people marched in the southern city of Shenzhen, overturning a Japanese-made police vehicle and attacking a Japanese restaurant, according to Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency.

And we can expect more to come. September 18 is the the 81st anniversary of the Mukden incident, Japan’s pretext for invading northern China in 1931. The same Chinese activists from Hong Kong who first landed on the island plan to organize protests at Japanese embassies across the world on this anniversary, according to the New York Times.

These are scary moments in the Game of Thrones. America’s interest is to push toward orderly and fair settlement of all claims. One possible measure would be to encourage negotiations on sharing resources, so that the nations of the region can benefit from the under-sea resources even before final decisions about sovereignty are made.

But the chances of economic diplomacy prevailing seem to be fading somewhat, as Japan is preparing to replace its current ambassador to China, Uichiro Niwa, with a career government bureaucrat likely to toe a more hawkish line on the Senkakus. The Daily Yomiuri has the details:

In June this year, Niwa caused a furor when he said in an interview with the Financial Times that the Tokyo metropolitan government’s plan to purchase some of the Senkaku Islands would “result in an extremely grave crisis in relations between Japan and China.”

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara demanded Niwa be dismissed as ambassador to China, saying he failed to pay due attention to the fact that the Senkaku Islands are an integral part of Japanese territory.

Calls for Niwa’s dismissal also mounted from both the ruling and opposition parties, saying he was unqualified to represent national interests.

We should have no illusions about the strength and bitterness of the passions these issues evoke. Countries have gone to war for far less.

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  • Luke Lea

    Draw a line through the principal axis of the islands and grant seabed on one side of the line to China and on the other to Japan? Where there are three or four claimants do a pie chart.

  • Luke Lea

    Here’s a nice image of the stakes:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4443821.stm

  • Luke Lea

    A little research shows those islands were claimed by Japan in 1895 at the same time they laid claim to Formosa. China has a case.

  • lester

    It is pretty amazing how close two nations can get to war over some speculative offshore gas fields, but our intellectuals on the left in the USA do not bother to use what we know we have beneath our lands and seas.

    Just amazing.

  • lester

    Maybe we should declare war on Japan. Surrender immediately. Have them institute full bore US domestic energy production, onshore and offshore, then declare independence. That is probably what it will take to overcome the stupidity of the demorat party and the greenweenies.

    There is no other nation on earth that wastes or lets lay fallow these tremendous natural resources (oil, gas, coal, rare earth metals, water, wood, corn, etc.)

  • Mike Giles

    In the mind of a Left Loon, it’s “unfair” that the US has all theses resources. It’s “only right” that w leave them in the ground and allow “oppressed” Third World countries to “catch up”. Besides if the US exploits those resources, it would remove any need for the US to give a [darn] about any of those tin pot dictatorships out there.

  • http://submandave.blogspot.com submandave

    You might nave a point, Luke, except that no-one was living on or near the Senkaku islands when the claim was made (under grounds of terra nullis). The claim actually followed several years of a Japanese fishing family using the islands as a camp and was initiated by the family who were seeking legal recognition of their rights and claims.

  • M. Report

    Trade has a much higher ROI than war.

  • Rob

    Didn’t Japan surrender unconditionally? I’d be very surprised to learn the terms set by the Allies didn’t specify post-war borders.

    If the stakes weren’t so high, it’d almost be comical the sound of an aggressor country whining about that little chunk of land it lost while being repelled (yes, Syria et. Al., that was for you too). Seems right to me, there’s a price to pay when you mobilize your armed forces, walk/fly/float ‘em to my country (unprovoked), attack… and fail.

  • CC-in-VA

    M.Report wrote “Trade has a much higher ROI than war” which of course is true. However, if you are China, with huge numbers of surplus young men who cannot find wives (because of the one-child policy having caused selective abortions and skewed the male-female ratio), then going to war using those angry and frustrated young men as expendable cannon fodder is a rational policy choice.

  • Georgiaboy61

    Re: “If the stakes weren’t so high, it’d almost be comical the sound of an aggressor country whining about that little chunk of land it lost while being repelled…” Rob, in case you haven’t noticed, Japan has paid her debt to world society for her crimes in WWII, at least to the extent she is going to do so. Beijing has a record of being extremely bellicose concerning natural resources, even ones that lie well-outside of its waters, such as in the Spratley and Paracel Islands.

    It would have cooled tempers and ugly memories if the post-WWII Japanese leadership had done a better job of apologizing to those who suffered under the empire of Japan during 1910-1945, but that window of time has passed, and modern-day Japanese should not be punished for the sins of their forefathers, in which they had no part. The Chinese and Koreans have just cause for being angry about watered-down history textbooks that whitewash the Nanking massacre and other such atrocities, but these grievances should not cause war.

    For China’s part, she is feeling her oats entirely too much, and is throwing her weight around like a schoolyard bully. Japan is not the only East Asian nation concerned about PRC sabre-rattling. The ROK, Taiwan, Vietnam and others are concerned as well. China’s unapologetic sponsorship of N. Korea’s aggression over the years does not help matters.

    The S. Koreans and Taiwanese are caught in the middle, and had best play their cards carefully.

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