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Can’t China and Japan Just Get Along? The Regular Person’s Simple Overview of the E. China Sea Problem

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Senkaku Islands(Diaoyu Islands) Left:Uotsuri J...

Senkaku Islands(Diaoyu Islands) Left:Uotsuri Jima(Diaoyu Dao) Right:Kita Kojima(Bei Xiaodao) and Minami Kojima(Nan Xiaodao) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We here at Voice of Truth USA would like to take this moment to explain, in very simple terms, the very dangerous dispute between China and Japan. Many people don’t have an interest in history and current events because both are usually presented in either a very bland way, or deception and propaganda are wrapped around the news. Here, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong between these two spoiled brats.

In the mid 1890s, both of these big boys got mad at each other over Korea. Japan beat up China and controlled Korea until World War II.

A few years later, right around 1900, some people back in China got pissed off with all the foreign boys who China felt were trying to mess up their old school traditions and economy. Among these foreign boys were Japanese big boys. So the Chinese boys kicked off the Boxer Rebellion to take all their marbles back from the foreign boys. But then Japan ganged up on angry China by with some bigger and badder boys, namely from the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. Now China really hated Japan.

During World War I, Japan’s bad boys took Shantung Peninsula from China’s bad boys. That really made China mad, but her bad boys were kinda beat down by then, so they couldn’t really do anything about it.

Around 1928, one of the big boys in China decided he didn’t like to play with his fellow boys so he ganged up on his own country by joining with the Japanese bad boys (called the Jinan Incident, but the name doesn’t really matter – just another excuse for boys to be boys and fight each other).

Just as the bad boys of Germany were starting to create a diabolical plan to take all of the marbles of the world for themselves, Japan’s bad boys got really, really bad and cocky. They took Manchuria from China in the early 1930s. Something called the Mukden Incident really made both sides mad at each other, leading China to boycott the importing of goods from the bad boys of Japan. Japan got really, really mad. Japan rounded up its baddest of bad boys and invaded Shanghai. Then they later took Peking (Beijing). China’s bad boys became sad boys and ran away, dropping their marbles for Japan to take like beasts. No more boycott.

But were the bad boys of Japan satisfied with just a few choice marbles? Nope!

Senkaku Islands

Senkaku Islands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a move probably instigated by the West behind the scenes (sound familiar?), Japan’s mean boys decided they wanted all of China. So the 2nd Sino-Japanese War started in the years leading up to World War II. In fact, this massive fight between the bad boys of Japan and the sad boys of China led to World War II.

Do we want World War III?

So now that brings us to today’s East China Sea islands dispute which started around 2010. Once again, the bad boys of Japan are up against the much bigger, now wealthier bad boys of China over a set of islands called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China. Imagine the fights if members of one street gang renamed a street of a rival gang and then enforced it. That’s kinda where this stands. Let’s see how others online describe the dispute:

The current dispute between China and Japan over a few barren islands inhabited by goats – called Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese – looks at first sight to be a mere territorial spat. But it has escalated to a very dangerous level in recent months — first words, then actions of police forces, now actions of air forces, and, behind all these, both sides have mobilised all their military, political, economic, diplomatic, and cultural energies to engage in the dispute. It is more fundamental than normal territorial disputes, because the very identities of the two countries are at stake.

Uotsuri-jima, one of the Senkaku Islands aeria...

Uotsuri-jima, one of the Senkaku Islands aerial photo taken by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan 1978. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The islands lie 120 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, 200 nautical miles east of the Chinese mainland, and 200 miles southwest of the Japanese-controlled island of Okinawa.

Japan formally annexed the islands in 1895, claiming they were not in anybody’s ownership or effective control. The Chinese government rejects the annexation as illegitimate. It claims that it had possession of the islands for 500 years before 1895, as charted on Chinese maps and recorded in Chinese ships’ logs. More specifically, records of Chinese tributary-system missions to ordain the kings of the Ryukyu kingdom (covering islands in the chain from southwest Japan to northeast Taiwan, of which Okinawa is the largest) state that the Diaoyu/Senkaku are on the Chinese side of the boundary between the two entities.

China says that the Imperial Japanese military seized the islands in its defeat of the Chinese military in the first Sino-Japanese war of 1894-5. Hence the islands should be returned to “China” (with ambiguity as to the government of the mainland or the government of Taiwan) as part of the post-1945 return of territories seized by Imperial Japan.

Japan counter-claims that the fact that Chinese maps presented the islands as Chinese and that Chinese ships visited gave no legal basis for ownership. The only other basis for ownership, other than annexation, is to have people there, which China did not. So Japan’s annexation in 1895 is determining. Furthermore, for the first 75 years of Japan’s control, from 1890 to the late 1960s (when evidence came to hand of undersea oil deposits nearby), China made no complaints about Japanese control.

Senkaku Islands

Senkaku Islands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Until 2010 the two governments left the settlement of their mutually exclusive claims undefined. This was the agreement that came out of the diplomatic recognition and friendship talks between the government of Japan and Zhou Enlai in 1972 and again Deng Xiaoping in 1978, who famously suggested that contentious issues like Senkaku should be “left to the wiser heads of later generations”.

However, the government of Japan denies that there ever was such an agreement, and the Japanese government’s official records of Premier Tanaka’s normalisation talks with Zhou Enlai in 1972 do not mention it. The China side replies that the memoirs of Tanaka’s personal assistant (who attended the talks) say that the agreement was made, as do accounts of the Chinese representatives. Moreover Japan’s silence on the issue of sovereignty of the islands for almost twenty years after Deng’s announcement of the agreement in his 1978 visit to Japan can be interpreted as an implicit recognition of the agreement.

In practice, Japan accepted the islands’ limbo state and did not try to colonize them, exercising “practical control” only by shooing away non-Japanese fishing boats.


Diaoyu-Senkaku Islands Dispute (2010-2013)–While Japan and China have not fought a war against each other since 1945, they still really do not like each other. This is partially evidenced by the ongoing dispute over a group of uninhabited islands between Japan and China (which Taiwan also claims, by the way). China calls them the Diaoyu Islands, while Japan calls them the Senkaku Islands (see map above). Both nations claim the islands as their territory, and this dispute escalated in September, 2010, when Japanese authorities seized a Chinese fishing trawler that collided with Japanese patrol boats and arrested the boat’s captain.

Nationalist-minded Chinese activists previously have landed on the rocky islands in order to raise the Chinese flag, but the boat incident is the most serious diplomatic dispute over these islands in decades.

Again, in August, 2012, the dispute over these islands erupted, as a group of 14 nationalists from Hong Kong and mainland Chinese traveled by boat to the disputed islands and planted Chinese flags. Japanese authorities arrested them, but then several Japanese nationalists journeyed to the islands to plant Japanese flags. Chinese public opinion erupted in anti-Japanese protests and attacks on Japanese business interests in China.

In mid-September, 2012, the Japanese national government purchased the three islands that were under private ownership, presumably to prevent the governor of Tokyo, who is an extreme nationalist, from acquiring them with Tokyo funds. This purchase set off a new round of protests in China. An escalation of the tension between China and Japan reached new heights when six chinese military surveillance ships entered Japanese waters near the islands. Japanese Coast Guard vessels warned the Chinese ships via radio to leave. All six Chinese ships eventually left Japanese-claimed waters.

Throughout 2012 and 2013, the tension between China and Japan continued to increase, as China increasingly attempted to lay claim to the islands. Chinese naval ships, fishing boats, and  warplanes continually entered the waters and airspace near the islands. Japanese forces constantly patrolled the area, and fears of an accidental clash between Chinese and Japanese forces became a constant concern. In November of 2013, China declared a large swath of sea and air off the Chinese coast, including the area around the islands, as a new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), requiring foreign planes and ships to log travel plans with the Chinese, among other restrictions. The United States, an ally of Japan, immediately responded with an overflight of the ADIZ by two unarmed B-52 bombers. This was followed by overflights by both South Korean and Japanese military planes. (The ADIZ also incorporated areas claimed by South Korea). The next day, Chinese military planes also overflew the area. This escalation in tensions came as the U.S. and Japan prepared to start a massive air and naval exercise in the western Pacific. The ongoing tensions are serious, and a wrong move or an accidental clash could develop into a new war between China and Japan.


Written by voiceoftruthusa

December 5, 2013 at 6:59 am

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