Tokyo officials are ignoring a territorial claim by China, with plans to visit the disputed Senkaku Islands days after Chinese activists landed there and were arrested.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which is seeking to buy three of the islands from their private owner, will apply for a permit to land and carry out a territorial survey this month, sources said Aug. 17.
Japan's government is also pushing for national ownership of the Senkakus, a group of five uninhabited islands and reefs, and plans to reject the Tokyo government's bid to visit.
"On what authority can the central government prevent us from going?" said Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara. "I would ask a court to answer that."
If no landing permit is granted, the sources said the metropolitan government would send a vessel anyway, to inspect the islands from surrounding waters. It would then file a new request to land in the autumn.
Metropolitan officials said they must carry out on-site surveys to assess the land's potential and to calculate a purchase price. Team members would include private-sector property valuation experts.
Additionally, the team would assess feasibility of Ishihara's plan to build a harbor for fishing boats and a fishery radio relay station, the officials said.
On Aug. 15, Japanese police and coast guard officers arrested 14 Hong Kong activists and journalists as their group tried to plant flags on the islands, which China calls Diaoyu. The islands are additionally claimed by Taiwan. On Aug. 17, Japan returned the first group of activists by plane and the rest are heading home by boat.
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