Tokyo up to another trick
Updated: 2012-09-03 08:12
The inspection of three of China's Diaoyu Islands by 25 Japanese nationals is undoubtedly a new provocation by Tokyo.
The inspection by Tokyo metropolitan government officials, a real estate appraiser and marine policy researchers was said to be aimed at finding ways to use the three isles as possible sites for marine facilities.
When Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda sent his emissary to Beijing last week, China took it seriously, especially because Japan said it was trying to prevent bilateral ties from deteriorating further. But the Tokyo metropolitan government's latest move has raised a big question mark on the issue.
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara announced his plan to buy three of the Diaoyu Islands in April. In July, the Noda camp came up with a scheme to nationalize the Diaoyu Islands. But Ishihara dismissed the Noda camp's move as "crude" and "another populist idea" of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan.
The rebuff reflects Noda's inability in dealing with the Diaoyu Islands issue. It has done effectively nothing to deter the Tokyo government from proceeding with the illicit purchase plan.
Noda should know full well that his efforts to please his nationalist political rivals would worsen Japan's relations with China. Through his plan to nationalize the Diaoyu Islands, Noda is trying not only to swing public opinion in DPJ's favor, but also to hush the opposition's critical remarks.
The friction between the national and the Tokyo metropolitan governments continues to simmer, and it is not likely to end any time soon.
With Noda hinting at holding the general election in November, the Diaoyu Islands issue may become more politicized in Japan.
In June the opposition Liberal Democratic Party introduced a draft law in Japan's Upper House to enable the national government to buy or lease uninhabited islands, including the possibility of forcible seizures. The bill was clearly intended to encroach upon part of China's territory.
The Sunrise Party, in its recent draft manifesto for the next general election, has suggested the deployment of Japan's Self-Defense Forces on the Diaoyu Islands.
When Noda's emissary was in Beijing, Chinese and Japanese officials were reportedly trying to arrange a meeting between President Hu Jintao and Noda later this month.
But if Noda no longer calls the shots in Japan, what would be the meeting for?
(China Daily 09/03/2012 page8)