Tokyo: Japan’s effective nationalization of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea has opened a Pandora’s box of conflicting sovereignty claims that China’s late leader, Deng Xiaoping, tried in the late 1970s to keep sealed.
Tokyo’s purchase of three of the five islands, all of which have long been under Japanese control, from a private owner on Sept. 11 sparked a chain reaction changing the nature of Japan’s relations with the other two claimants to the territory, China and Taiwan, and paradoxically weakened Japan’s ability to claim exclusive sovereignty over the islands, the Japan Times reports.
According to the report, Japan has repeatedly denied the existence of any dispute over the uninhabited islands in order to avoid being forced to negotiate with Taiwan and China, and therefore to ward off making concessions that could weaken its effective administration of the Senkakus and surrounding waters.
With regard to China, the way the Japan Coast Guard has dealt with the daily intrusion of Chinese vessels into the waters surrounding the Senkakus might be seen as an "implicit recognition" that a dispute over sovereignty exists, the report said.
There is actually ‘coexistence’ between Japanese and Chinese vessels near the Senkakus, even within what Japan sees as its territorial waters, professor Michael Sheng-Ti Gau of the National Taiwan Ocean University said.
"This fact demonstrates the recognition by the Japanese government of the existence of a dispute over sovereignty," he added.
“The intrusion of Chinese vessels will continue ‘on a daily basis and into the territorial waters’ for the foreseeable future as a means to advance China``s claims over the area,” Gau maintained.