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Japan protests after two Chinese coast guard ships enter islands in East China Sea

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Japan protests after two Chinese coast guard ships enter islands in East China Sea:


After two Chinese coast guard ships entered waters off the Senkaku islands recently, Japan protested against China’s intrusion in the uninhabited islets in the East China Sea.

  • Tensions have escalated between the two countries after Beijing enacted a legislation allowing its coast guard to use weapons against foreign ships that it views illegally entered its waters.

What’s the issue?

Japan and China are locked in a dispute over the islands in the East China Sea which Tokyo calls the Senkakus and Beijing the Diaoyu. The islets are administered by Japan, however, Beijing claims the islands as its own.

What China says?

  • China’s (and Taiwan’s) position is that the Diaoyus have been part of Chinese territory since at least 1534.
  • China argues that Japan seized the features by force during the first Sino-Japanese War that ended with the imposition on China of the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki.
  • It asserts that the Potsdam Declaration that Japan accepted as part of the San Francisco Peace Treaty ending World War II required Tokyo to relinquish control of Taiwan, and that these features are part of Taiwan, which is part of China.

But the US took control of them and in 1971 transferred their administration to Japan under the Okinawa Reversion Agreement.

Status quo:

  • China had more or less accepted the status quo – provided that Japan did not interfere with its fishing boats outside the 12-nautical-mile territorial sea.
  • Then, in 2012, Japan upended the status quo by purchasing the islands from their private Japanese owners, thus nationalising them.
  • Although the government maintained that this was done to keep them out of the hands of radical nationalists, China felt that Japan was opportunistically consolidating its theft of its territory.

Why is the international community worried?

This dispute threatens regional and perhaps world peace because the US – and its allies – could be drawn into a kinetic conflict. In response to pressure from Japan, the US has repeatedly reaffirmed that the features come under the scope of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.


Prelims Link:

  1. South China Sea dispute- regions involved, countries’ claims.
  2. Where are Senkaku Islands?
  3. What is the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951?
  4. China- Taiwan relations.

Mains Link:

How China’s aggressive expansionist policy is being viewed by countries worldwide? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.