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Thursday, September 16, 2010

The continuing story of the Diaokakutai Islands

And so it goes on, according to this Yomiuri Shimbun 読売新聞 from today's Daily Yomiuri ザ・デイリー読売:

"A Taiwan fishing boat carrying two protesters entered Japan's contiguous zone near the Senkaku Islands 尖閣諸島 in the East China 東シナ海 Sea early Tuesday, in what appeared to be a failed attempt to land on the disputed islets, the Japan Coast Guard 海上保安庁 said. The encroachment is believed to have been made in response to the arrest of the Chinese captain of a trawler that collided with two JCG patrol vessels last week near the Senkaku Islands. The fishing boat entered the contiguous zone - a 12-nautical-mile (22-kilometer) strip of water extending from the outer edge of Japan's territorial waters - at a point east-southeast of Uotsurijima island 魚釣島, the main island in the Senkaku Islands, at about 2:35 a.m. Tuesday. The 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters based in Naha 那覇 issued repeated warnings to the vessel and dispatched patrol boats and aircraft. The fishing boat, which left a northern Taiwan port Monday, stopped near Uotsurijima island when five Taiwan and JCG patrol boats surrounded it at about 4 a.m. About 2-1/2 hours later, the fishing boat moved west and headed toward Taiwan, leaving the contiguous zone at about 8 a.m. at a point west of Uotsurijima island. At about 10:30 a.m., the boat left Japan's exclusive economic zone. According to the JCG, the activists are members of a private organization, the Chinese Association for Protecting Tiaoyutai. Both China and Taiwan claim the Senkaku Islands, which they call Tiaoyut'ai 釣魚台群島. In the contiguous zone, which is within Japan's EEZ but outside its territorial waters, foreign vessels are not allowed to engage in economic activities such as surveys for natural resources without permission. But they can sail through the zone as long as they do not violate the rules. In Taiwan, the Chinese Association for Protecting Tiaoyutai announced Tuesday morning it had abandoned its effort to land on the islets and the fishing boat was expected to arrive in Taiwan on Tuesday night. In Tōkyō 東京, Chief Cabinet Secretary 内閣官房長官 Yoshito Sengoku 仙谷由人 expressed regret over the incident. 'We lodged a protest with the Taiwan government through diplomatic channels. The Senkaku Islands are an integral part of Japan, both historically and under international law,' Sengoku said at a press conference Tuesday morning. '[The JCG's action to prevent the activists from landing on the Senkaku Islands] was appropriate.'"

Not surprisingly, the Taiwanese government expressed its "deep dissatisfaction" and lodged a protest with the Japanese government, while a small group of protesters burned Rising Sun flags 旭日旗 and threw dead fish in front of the Japan Interchange Association 財団法人交流協会 in T'aipei 台北. Perhaps not so coincidentally, today's Taipei Times had this story on its front page, in addition to a report on Taiwan's protests at Japan's "interference":

"A massive military exercise of potential importance to Taiwan will be staged in December on and around the Ryūkyū Islands 琉球諸島 by the Japan Self-Defense Forces 自衛隊 and ships from the US 7th Fleet...the exercise is aimed at perfecting plans for recapturing the lightly protected islands should they be invaded by China...One that the Chinese might stage a narrowly focused attack on the Ryūkyū Islands designed to open a corridor through the archipelago. A prime candidate is Miyako Island 宮古島, which abuts both Miyako and Ishigaki 石垣島 straits...Alternatively, the (Chinese People's Liberation Army) could try to capture the entire Ryūkyū chain from Japan in an effort to bar maritime Asia to US reinforcements while keeping forces already in the theater from entering the Taiwan Strait...PLA forces entrenched along the island chain could supply air and sea cover for (People's Liberation Army Navy) vessels cruising off the east coast of Taiwan...An obvious step, (one) study says, would be for Japan to fortify the islands themselves against attack, 'sparing Japanese forces the hazards of retaking them from PLA occupiers. Dug-in and armed with anti-ship and anti-air weaponry, Japanese troops could make the Ryūkyūs exceptionally hard targets to capture for PLA forces operating far from their bases,' it said."

I've been thinking of visiting Ishigaki, in Okinawa Prefecture 沖縄県, on my next trip to Japan. The way things are going, I might have to speed up preparations before things get out of hand.

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