China-Japan conflict over islands in the East China Sea

The conflict between China and Japan over the islands known as the Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japan started in April 2012.


The dispute island had historical complexity. A map of the world which was charted in 1863 says that originally, the island was belonged to the group of Chinese Diaoyu islands. However, the Empire of Japan unilaterally registered the island as their territory during the Sino-Japanese War in 1895. The island was under the mandatory administration of the U.S. after the Second World War, and Japan has controlled it since 1972.


For decades, China and Japan have agreed with a tacit agreement to keep the islands dispute quiet. “Japan agreed not to carry out any new construction or let anyone land on the islands; China agreed to delay assertion of any claim to the islands and not let the dispute interfere with trade and political relations”.

 The situation, however, has radically changed recently. The breach of the tacit agreement was triggered by Japan. Shintaro Ishihara who is Japanese governor said that “The Tokyo municipal government was planning to buy three of the five Senkaku/Diaoyu islands from their private Japanese owner”. After Ishihara’s comments, the subsequent efforts of Japanese central government have made the situation worse. As a result, the “nationalization” of the islands on September 11, 2012 triggered serious conflict between both countries.

 China has considered Japan’s nationalization as an opportunity to exploit, and Japanese movement triggered a wave of anti-Japanese protests across China. According to BBC news, “Japanese stores and companies in China have been attacked and thousands of protesters chanted slogans outside the Japanese embassy”. And Chinese people have boycotted Japanese companies’ products, causing big losses for Japan’s famous auto companies, which rely on the China market.


These days, the current tensions between two have reaches its peak and many people worry that it may result in a military conflict. Their worst fears may be coming true. Both countries use external shows of force to show off their military strength and to give political pressure. They are increasing the number of maritime surveillance vessels in the South China Sea. Furthermore, Japanese government is considering a potential Japan-U.S joint military exercise in Okinawa as fleet demonstration. This situation is increasing the tensions of war around the dispute island.

 My stance on this conflict is blame of Japanese government. Aside from Diaoyu/Senkaku, Japanese government is trying to expand their territory these days.

For example, there is another conflict between Japan and South Korea over Dokdo which is the island group located in East Sea of Korea. Even though several historical evidences obviously say that Dokdo is Korean territory and Korean government has controlled the island for hundreds of years, Japanese government has continued to assert that Dokdo belongs to Japan, calling the island Dakeshima in Japanese. If Japan does not relinquish its claims to a disputed set of islands, it would threaten peace in East Asia. Japanese government must stop the assertion and throw away greedy invading other countries’ territory.


Works Cited


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