• Thu
  • Aug 28, 2014
  • Updated: 12:54am
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JAPAN

Japan claims 280 uninhabited islands

Tokyo announces plan to register 280 isolated isles as state property, as National Security Council is launched, tightening Abe's grip

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 January, 2014, 12:29am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 January, 2014, 8:31am

Japan yesterday said it will accelerate the nationalisation of 280 uninhabited islands in a bid to strengthen control of the country's maritime territory.

Ichita Yamamoto, minister for oceanic policies and territorial issues, said Tokyo would formally register the remote islands, which are among the more than 400 land features that define Japan's territorial waters.

"We will register the remote islands as state property to enhance their management," Yamamoto said.

Also yesterday, Tokyo formally launched the administrative office of Japan's newly established National Security Council, which would strengthen Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's control over various security agencies.

Tokyo earlier claimed the need for forming a national security council as a response to China's increasing military assertiveness. But Chinese scholars viewed it as Japan's attempt to rearm itself and increase its military presence in the region.

Both moves announced by Tokyo yesterday could further fuel tensions between Japan and its neighbours China and South Korea.

The locations of these 280 islands are not known yet and it is not clear whether they are contested by other countries. When asked by the South China Morning Post, the secretariat of the Headquarters for Ocean Policy in Japan said the islands were "all around Japan" and were not under dispute. Media reports have said that these islands are without owners, and some of them are even nameless.

Yamamoto said that Tokyo had finished the nationalisation of 99 remote islands within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) by August 2011.

The nationalisation of the 280 islands is seen by some Chinese analysts as a move by Japan to further bolster its maritime power. Relations between China and Japan have soured after a series of events, ranging from China's establishment of an air defence identification zone over the East China Sea in November to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine last month.

The Japanese defence ministry said yesterday that it scrambled a military jet in response to a Chinese government plane seen flying towards the disputed islands known as the Diaoyus in China and the Senkakus in Japan, the first such incident since November, when China declared an air defence identification zone which overlaps with Japan's.

Da Zhigang , an expert in Japanese affairs at the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said Tokyo's move to nationalise the islands would further dismay China and South Korea. "The timing is very suspicious. Why does Tokyo announce such a plan after Abe's visit to the Yasukuni shrine?" Da said.

But Professor Lian Degui , of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said Tokyo would only target islands that are not claimed by China or South Korea.

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This article is now closed to comments

honger
280 only? A repeat of 1939, perhaps? If the 280 were already theirs, why claim it now??? Because it isn't.
lexishk
Yawn. What about China's claims to huge swathes of the South China Sea which impinge on the territory of Southeast Asian sovereign states, hmm?
HK-Explorer
Japan does seem to becoming militaristic. A bit worrying after so many years of peace.
lexishk
Sounds like a double standard to me. And what about China's claims to the South China Sea and the ADIZ? I just don't see why Japan should be expected to sit there and do nothing while China "modernizes" its military and starts reaching out for territory. It's hypocritical and paranoid to suggest otherwise.
Matthew Chen
Abe is lurching from provocation to provocation. If these 280 islands already belong to Japan why is there a need to claim them? Why ask China and South Korea for a summit right after visiting the Yasukuni shrine, knowing that it will be rejected? Why sat on a plane with the number 731 on it?
Polarising Views
More aggravation from iJapan. How unfortunate in this century. When will world peace ever become a reality?
lexishk
The exact same could be said about China, and who moved first? Anyway, it isn't necessarily correct to call this 'militaristic' as opposed to 'strategic'. Judgment should be witheld until we know what islands these actually are.
anson
Before Abe continues with this posturing, he should ask himself a simple question - Does the US and her allies have public support and will to fight a war on behalf of Japan? The answer is probably - no.
Japan is admired in the West for its industry and for its way of life. The people of Japan are some of the nicest in the world, but they are never completely trusted because they have never resolved international issues that are contentious.
With Japan it is always a case of sweeping problems under the carpet. They admit there is a problem but simply won't face up to it. This is certainly the case with their actions in WWII, is also the case with those islands - Diaoyus, and is likely to be the case up until their is simply no room left under the carpet. At that point who will support them? Because this time around Japan would be swatted like a little fly by China if it stood alone.
ngsw
With Abe on earth? Guess what next will he claim?
mh0908
Let's hope the War of Jiawu does not repeat itself. Most importantly, May Peace Prevail on Earth! 世界人類が平和でありますように!

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