A power struggle in China ruined Japan’s attempt at the last minute to prevent fallout over its plan to put the disputed Senkaku Islands under state control, according to a Japanese lawmaker.
Before the issue went to the Cabinet last year, the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda informed Chinese officials that the Japanese government intended to buy the islets in the East China Sea from private ownership, Akihisa Nagashima said in his book “Katsubei to Iu Ryugi” (The way to utilize the United States), published on Oct. 22.
A possible agreement unraveled, and Japan’s purchase of three of the islets in September 2012 sparked anti-Japan demonstrations that spread across China, including attacks on Japanese companies operating there.
Ties between the two neighbors plunged to their lowest point since relations were normalized in 1972. The islands are now a constant source of friction involving coast guard vessels, patrols and incursions.
Nagashima, a member of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan in the Lower House, handled the Senkaku Islands issue as a special adviser to Noda.
The problem started in April last year when then Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara announced that the Tokyo metropolitan government planned to buy the islets to better safeguard them.
The Noda government’s decision in July last year to buy the islands was actually intended to assuage anger in China.
Although the islets are administered by Japan, they are also claimed by China, which calls them the Diaoyu Islands. The Japanese government expressed concerns that Ishihara, a politician known for infuriating China with his comments about World War II and other sensitive issues, could strain diplomatic relations if his government controlled the islands.
In his book, published by Kodansha Ltd., Nagashima said the Noda administration worked to gain the understanding of Chinese leaders before Japanese Cabinet members endorsed the policy in September.
“We exhausted all available diplomatic channels to reach Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun and State Councilor Dai Bingguo,” Nagashima said in the book.
Nagashima did not identify the Japanese and Chinese officials who were involved in the talks.
After rounds of discussions, the Japanese officials became “positive about the prospects of being able to elicit a ‘tacit acceptance’ from China,” he wrote.
But “a group of Chinese leaders who were inclined to accept (Noda’s policy) lost its clout” in the intensifying power squabble ahead of the Chinese Communist Party’s National Congress.
The “‘collaboration’ by Japanese and Chinese diplomatic authorities was crushed,” according to the book, and anti-Japanese sentiment spread after Japan’s purchase of the Senkaku Islands.
- « Prev
- Next »