Japan, China, the Senkaku Islands, & Ginned-up Rage.

Several of the Senkaku ・Diaoyu Islands

= 19 Sept 2012 Update:  as quickly as they began, China’s raging protests end. Beijing pulls the levers on both . . . =

= 25 Sept 2012 Update:  Now Taiwan, feeling ignored it seems, has gotten into the act. See photo below . . . =

So what’s going on between China and Japan and the Senkaku (Diaoyu to the Chinese) Islands?  Where are these islands and what’s behind all the rage and sabre-rattling?  This is no scholarly report, just a little update and primer for the casual reader who wants some background on this stormy  (and potentially very dangerous) controversy.  While looking at the information below, please keep the following things in mind:  1)  Virtually no protests — certainly not in front of foreign embassies — occur in China without government approval and, in matters such as this, organization; 2) China’s going through a Communist Party / National Government transfer-of-power drama which, if the populace were to pay a whole lot of attention to it, would no doubt showcase cronyism and ineptitude; 3) Japan has elections coming up, too, and no Japanese politician wants to be seen as “bowing” to Chinese demands.

From the Wiki:

The Senkaku Islands dispute concerns a territorial dispute on a group of uninhabited, the Senkaku Islands, which are also known as the Diaoyu by China or Tiaoyutai Islands by Taiwan.  The archipelago is administered by Japan, while also being claimed by both the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China [Taiwan] (ROC).   [Following World War II] The United States occupied the islands from 1945 to 1972. . .

After China lost the [first Sino-Japanese] war [in 1895], both countries signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki in April 1895 that stipulated, among other things, that China would cede to Japan “the island of Formosa together with all islands appertaining or belonging to said island of Formosa (Taiwan)”.

The treaty, however, was nullified after Japan lost the Second World War in 1945 by the Treaty of San Francisco, which was signed between Japan and part of the Allied Powers in 1951. The document nullifies prior treaties and lays down the framework for Japan’s current status of retaining a military that is purely defensive in nature. 

There is a disagreement between the Japanese, PRC and ROC governments as to whether the islands are implied to be part of the “islands appertaining or belonging to said island of Formosa” in the Treaty of Shimonoseki.

Map of the Disputed Islands.

Thousands of Chinese Protesters Besiege Japanese Embassy (Japan Today — September 15, 2012).  Excerpt:

“Return our islands! Japanese devils get out!” some shouted. One of them held up a sign reading: “For the respect of the motherland, we must go to war with Japan.”

Protester Liu Gang, a migrant worker from the southern region of Guangxi, said: “We hate Japan. We’ve always hated Japan. Japan invaded China and killed a lot of Chinese. We will never forget.”

Japan and China:  Ghosts of the Past (The Guardian — September 17, 2012).  Excerpt:

Left to their own devices, relations between Japan and China are bound to improve. Both economies need each other. China is Japan’s single largest trading partner and bilateral trade hit a record $345bn last year. But things in the East China Sea are rarely left to their own devices. A move by the Japanese government to defuse an attempt by nationalists to buy disputed islands in fish- and gas-rich seas, by buying them itself, has led to six days of demonstrations in China. Japanese cars and car dealerships have been attacked, factories have been torched or broken into. Hundreds of Japanese companies and offices have been forced to suspend operation.  And the biggest wave of protest since the two countries normalised relations in 1972 – there were demonstrations in 70 Chinese cities – is not over yet.

SEPTEMBER 25, 2012:

AP/Taiwan Central News Agency Photo [25 September 2012] — Japanese Coast Guard boats shoot water cannons at Taiwanese Coast Guard boats in the waters off the disputed islands. About 40 Taiwanese fishing vessels and 12 Taiwanese Coast Guard boats took part in the action, finally pulling away after the water cannonade.


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