Japanese YouTube videos on disputed isle claims anger Beijing, Seoul
As Tokyo plans large-scale war games, China and South Korea react furiously to YouTube clips spelling out claims to disputed islands
Japan's foreign ministry has prompted outrage in Beijing and Seoul by setting up a YouTube channel devoted to bolstering Tokyo's claim of ownership of two disputed island groups.
So far, the channel includes two 90-second videos that use historical photographs and documents that purport to prove Japan's sovereignty over the two archipelagos, which are the focus of territorial rows with China and South Korea.
They were posted last week, just ahead of huge Japanese wargames beginning next week that are aimed at boosting Japan's ability to protect remote islands. Destroyers, fighter jets and 34,000 troops are to take part in the exercise. The air-sea-land drill from November 1-18 will involve amphibious landings on the uninhabited atoll of Okidaitojima, 400 kilometres southeast of the main Okinawan island, a defence ministry official said.
The videos, which represent Japan's latest public relations volley on the issue, are currently only in Japanese, but the ministry plans to provide versions in 10 other languages, including Chinese, Korean and English.
The territories in question are the Diaoyu Islands, which Japan controls and calls the Senkakus; and Takeshima, which South Korea controls and calls the Dokdo Islands.
"We are also preparing three other short movies on the Senkaku islands and one on the issue of Takeshima," a ministry spokesman said. "The new ones will be just 30 seconds in length and we hope they will be watched by smartphone and tablet users."
The ministry has earmarked 120 million yen (HK$9.5 million) this financial year for the films and creating the YouTube channel, he added. "It is important that the international community obtain correct understanding over situations surrounding Japan, including territories," he said.
China and South Korea reacted angrily to the move. In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying repeated the assertion that the South China Sea islands are Chinese.
"Whatever propaganda tools Japan employs to support its illegal claim, it will not change the fact that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China," she said.
"We strongly urge the Japanese side to correct its attitude, stop all provocative words and actions and make concrete efforts for the proper management and resolution of the question of the Diaoyu Islands."
South Korea lodged a formal protest over the Dokdo video, calling in a senior Japanese embassy official to register disapproval yesterday.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said the protest noted the Japanese government's attempt "to undermine our sovereignty over Dokdo by spreading groundless claims over the internet".
Japan's latest move, officials say, is in part a reaction to advertising efforts by China. Two-page colour ads saying "Diaoyu Islands belong to China" appeared in The New York Times and the The Washington Post last year.
The Japanese military's live-fire exercises will likely add to the tensions, although Okidaitojima is a considerable distance from the Diaoyus/Senkakus.