China and Japan Tensions over the Disputed Territory is Reaching a new stage

China and Japan Tensions over the Disputed Territory is Reaching a new stage

Hiroshi Saito and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


Tensions between China and Japan appear to be reaching a new stage because all recent signs of a possible compromise are then met by new issues over the disputed territorial area. Yet the fresh crisis appears to be reaching a new level because political leaders in Tokyo are trying to embroil the international community into the issue at a much higher level. This can be seen by the government of Japan openly refuting the political hierarchy in China which denies that a naval frigate posed a threat to a Japanese ship.

According to Japan a naval frigate from China locked on its fire-control radar, thereby endangering the Japanese ship. China flatly disagreed with the accusations emanating from Japan that China endangered a Japanese vessel. However, the new government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is adamant that China is “playing games” when it comes to the real events that took place. Therefore, the “quietist policy” of Japan appears to be at breaking point because Japan is thinking about providing their alleged evidence.

The fact that Japan is making it open to the general public and international community that they can prove their allegations is a rare measure when it comes to the disputed territorial issue with China. Of course, the territorial issue is nothing new but if China gave orders to lock on its fire-control radar – then clearly Beijing will be not only upping the ante – but it will be evidence that China’s military posture is changing.

Also, if the military and political leadership of China gave orders to challenge what they deem to be a perceived threat, then it also indicates that the fear of America is abating. After all, in recent times it is clear that America was forced to pull out of Iraq and similar measures are afoot in Afghanistan. Likewise, France and the United Kingdom were much more open to bombing Libya and clearly France tried to push nations into a confrontation with Syria alongside Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Yet America brushed aside the political pressure with regards to Syria despite negative policies towards Damascus. Similarly, France moved into Mali without the promise of major support from America. Therefore, is China also testing the water to see how America responds alongside defending their perceived rights over the disputed territory?

Of course, it is important not to blow up the situation to a level that may not exist but America on the whole is calling for restraint on both sides. China is also involved with other territorial disputes with other regional nations and the same applies to Japan. What is clear is that China is taking a big risk if Japan does provide the evidence openly because the political leadership in Beijing denies the accusations of Japan. However, whereby the situation could have been resolved between both nations and with prompting from America – it now appears that Japan is becoming disillusioned and this can be sensed by making the issue much more open.

The BBC states that Tokyo said it might release the data after Beijing rejected accusations it had targeted the destroyer last month.China insists its ship was only using ordinary surveillance radar.”

“The incident would be the closest the two countries have come to exchanging fire in the reignited dispute over the islands in the East China Sea.”

Of course, if China challenges Japan to provide the data and then the Abe government comes up short, then this will put Japan in a very difficult position. However, it would appear to be strange for Japan to take such a gamble therefore the next few days may witness further tensions – or both sides make take a step back in order to preserve mutual dignity – over the recent major spat between both nations. It will also be interesting to see how America responds to the current crisis, when it applies to neutrality and trying to reach a compromise which suits everyone involved.

The Chinese news agency Xinhau is adamant that the Abe government in Japan is responsible for the crisis. This news agency states that While hyping up the “China threat” with irresponsible remarks, the Abe government is boosting Japan’s military strength. For the first time in years, Japan raised its military budget this year despite its economic woes. This is seen as a worrisome signal by its Asian neighbors troubled by bitter memories of Japan’s militarism during the Second World War.”

In the same article it is stated that the “Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made another attempt on Friday to mislead the international community by demanding China apologize for the recent radar incident.

If there is an apology to be made for the latest unease in China-Japan relations, it should be from the Japanese side.”

“The accusation that Chinese warships targeted fire-control radars at Japanese vessels in the East China Sea on Jan. 30 is a sheer fabrication. The Chinese Ministry of National Defense has confirmed that no fire-control radar was used.”

It is hoped that China and Japan can resolve the current crisis because tensions over the disputed territory isn’t warranted to this level, irrespective of which nation is responsible – or if both nations are behaving irresponsibly. China and Japan should be focused on trade, improving cultural awareness and developing closer ties in many areas. Also it is time for Northeast Asia to stop being caught in “a nationalist tide” and to resolve delicate issues through diplomatic channels.

In another article about the disputed territory by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that the status quo was not perfect but once Japan bought part of the area and nationalized Senkaku/Diaoyu by stealth; then clearly China was not going to ignore this. However, instead of going through the political channels and addressing things more appropriately, the nationalist angle created a very negative image.”

It is hoped that political elites in Beijing and Tokyo will take a step back and re-evaluate their respective policies towards Senkaku/Diaoyu because it is clear that the current crisis is reaching a new stage. Therefore, before it gets out of control both nations need to take a step back from the militarization of the area, in order to reach a genuine political solution which is long lasting and which suits both parties.

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