Outspoken Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara bawled out lawmakers for not standing up to China on the Senkaku territorial dispute, saying incursions to the islands amounted to Japan allowing itself to be burgled.
Ishihara recently angered China by saying his Tokyo metropolitan government intended to buy four of the uninhabited islands from their current owners. They have received "rent" from the state since 2002.
The islands, which lie off Okinawa's main island in the East China Sea, are administered by Japan but claimed by China.
Ishihara delivered a blistering attack on lawmakers at a Lower House audit committee on June 11.
"What nation in the world leaves the doors unlocked even after the declaration of a burglary into its important houses (the Senkakus) comes (from China)?” he thundered.
It was Ishihara's first opportunity to speak in the Diet since he announced his administration's intention to purchase the islands.
"Looking at the situation facing the Senkakus, who on earth is going to protect them?” Ishihara asked. "Why have successive administrations ignored the will of the people? The source of the problem is the Foreign Ministry. The central government and the Diet are also to blame. I really want to bawl them out."
He then called on the central government to consider purchasing the islands once his administration has legally obtained the rights.
"The Tokyo metropolitan government is being forced to do something that really is not its business," he said. "It is the state that should be activity working (on the purchase)."
Ishihara's campaign is clearly resonating with more and more Diet members along various political lines.
This has put the central government in a difficult position as it has been trying to bolster its effective control of the Senkakus without jeopardizing relations with China.
The central government takes the stance that there is no territorial issue and the purchase of the islands is purely a domestic matter.
"We want to calmly strengthen our effective control, but (Ishihara's moves) are playing into the hands of China, which wants to play up the territorial issue," said a senior central government official.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin called on Japan during a regular news conference on June 11 to stop causing problems and take actions that do not inflame bilateral relations.
He was referring to a fishing trip to the Senkakus the day before by a group that included Diet members trying to publicize Japan’s sovereignty over the islands.
He said Beijing had demanded that Japan immediately desist from such actions, which he called farcical.
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