Tokyo welcomes US plans to raise the Senkaku Islands issue in talks with China

Cabinet Secretary General Katsunobu Kato said the Japanese government intends to demonstrate its determination to consistently defend the country’s territory, territorial waters and airspace

Tokyo welcomes US plans to raise the Senkaku Islands issue in talks with China

The Japanese government welcomes the U.S. intention to inform the Chinese leadership of Tokyo’s concern over the activities of Chinese patrol boats off the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu), which are claimed by the PRC. Cabinet Secretary General Katsunobu Kato said this at a press conference in Tokyo on Monday.

“We welcome the US intention to raise the issue”, –  he said. – “The Japanese government intends to convincingly demonstrate its determination to consistently defend our territory, territorial waters and airspace.”

Earlier, the Japanese government said the US administration had notified Tokyo that it would raise the Senkaku issue at the first meeting of US and Chinese diplomatic leaders to be held in Alaska on March 18.

The Yomiuri newspaper reported on March 1 that Chinese marine police patrol ships made 14 visits in February to an area off the uninhabited Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu) in the East China Sea, which Japan considers its territorial waters. According to the newspaper, a significant concern in Tokyo is that the Chinese maritime police were officially given the right to use weapons against intruders a month ago. In response, Japan has given such powers to its coast guard, raising the threat of armed conflict.

Tokyo declared Senkaku as its territory in 1895 when it defeated China in the war and seized Taiwan from it. After World War II, Japan gave up rights to the island. By Beijing’s logic, it should also return the Senkaku (Diaoyu), which, China claims, China has owned since the fourteenth century. The Japanese government denies such claims and maintains that the islands were uninhabited and owned by no one at the time of accession.

The conflict over the Senkakus escalated after Tokyo announced in September 2012 that it was buying the islands from their private owners, Japanese citizens. This was followed by mass protests in the PRC, with the destruction of Japanese restaurants and businesses. Since then, Chinese ships have been constantly cruising near the disputed archipelago and making demonstrative visits to its coastal zone.

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