Diaoyu Islands ad stirs tensions

Updated: 2012-07-30 07:57

(China Daily)

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government fueled tensions between Japan and China as it took out an advertisement in Friday's Wall Street Journal seeking US support for its so-called purchase plan of the Diaoyu Islands.

Observers said the provocation suggests Japan is anxious to get the United States involved in a dispute with its neighbor.

According to Kyodo News, the advertisement took up two-thirds of a single page in the newspaper. "To the American People from Tokyo, Japan," the advertisement said. "It is with the hope of gaining the understanding and support of the American people for our purchase of the islands that we are running this issue advocacy ad today."

It claimed a developing China is putting pressure on the waters and even warned "failure to support the Asian nations confronting China would result in the United States losing the entire Pacific Ocean".

The advertisement is the latest trick by Japan's right-wing activists since Shintaro Ishihara, the Tokyo governor, announced a plan to buy the islands in April, analysts said.

Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations and director of the Center on American Studies at Renmin University of China, said Tokyo expected to arouse "instant sympathy" from American politicians through the advertisement.

"Tokyo ran the advertisement when concerns on China's naval movements flared up not only in Japan but also among some ASEAN members. Those sensational words have amplified Ishihara's voice and provided an updated and specific interpretation of the 'China Threat Theory'. It aims at catering to Washington's strategy on the western Pacific Ocean."

Zhou Yongsheng, an expert on Japanese studies at China Foreign Affairs University, echoed Shi's analysis.

Zhou said Ishihara, the 80-year-old nationalist, might not have a specific goal other than boosting his image and obtaining more political capital.

"The Democratic Party of Japan is using the issue for more votes in the short term. But as for the long term, their target is to seize the Diaoyu Islands as Japan's territory, and their recent move shows the government is processing its strategy."

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Friday his government should take "resolute actions" against any "illegal" incursion of neighboring nations into Japan's "territorial waters".

Satoshi Morimoto, Japan's defense minister, also raised the possibility of mobilizing the country's Self-Defense Forces when commenting on the Chinese vessels sailing near the islands in the East China Sea.

Beijing in response expressed serious concern and slammed the statements of Noda and his cabinet members as "extremely irresponsible".

Japan's Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said on last Tuesday that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "had confirmed" that the islands fall within the scope of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.