Japan, China increase global campaigns over Senkaku islands

Japan and China are mounting global diplomatic campaigns in hopes of strengthening their competing claims to the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Tokyo: Japan and China are mounting global diplomatic campaigns in hopes of strengthening their competing claims to the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Tokyo recently reversed course on its policy of avoiding vigorous counter-arguments to the Chinese claims.

Japanese officials appear to have changed tack out of concern that if other countries listen only to Beijing’s assertion that Japan ‘stole’ the uninhabited islands from China, Japan`s sovereign claims to the territory, called Diaoyu by the Chinese, could be undermined.

According to the Japan Times, the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, facing China`s wrath over its purchase of three of the islets from a Saitama businessman last month, is readying itself to take the Chinese challenge head on, arguing that Beijing`s accusations are groundless.

China, for its part, is making use of state media and other means to make its case known to the international audience on a scale likely to overwhelm the Japanese effort, the report added.

"We need to promote our country`s position to the international community at a time when the so-called legal war or something like an information war is being waged," Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba said.

In response to the Noda administration’s change of policy, the Foreign Ministry drew up a document titled "Three Truths Concerning Senkaku Islands" and directed Japanese diplomatic establishments around the world to brief their host countries on the matter.

According to the report, the document said that the island group is part of Japanese territory, both in light of international law and historically.

The ministry has also set up a special section on its official website to make it easier to access relevant information both in Japanese and English.

Through these efforts, the government intends to counter the Chinese assertion that the purchase presents a grave challenge to the postwar international order and that the blame for the worsening relations between the two countries is squarely on Japan.

The Chinese English-language newspaper China Daily took out opinion ads in three US newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, in which it claimed that the Senkakus are China`s inherent territory from ancient times and the country has indisputable sovereignty over them.

In Pakistan earlier this month, the Chinese Embassy placed an ad in the country`s English-language newspaper Daily Times in which China asserted that the handover of administrative rights to the Senkaku Islands from the United States to Japan in 1972 as part of the reversion of Okinawa was both illegal and invalid, the report added.

Despite Japan`s diplomatic campaign, pessimism is starting to percolate among some Japanese officials given China`s seemingly ample capacity to get its message across on a global scale, a capacity the same government source conceded is perhaps several times as great as that of Japan, it concluded.