石原氏尖閣発言 領土保全に国も関与すべきだ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 20, 2012)
Govt should be involved in guarding territorial integrity
石原氏尖閣発言 領土保全に国も関与すべきだ(4月19日付・読売社説)

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has announced in a speech during his visit to the United States that the Tokyo metropolitan government plans to purchase some of the Senkaku Islands in Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture.

In response to Ishihara's announcement, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda referred to the possibility that the central government might move to possess the islets in place of the metropolitan government, saying it "will confirm the true intention of the owner [of the islets] and discuss the matter from every angle."

Ishihara, who has said, "Tokyo will protect the Senkaku Islands," raised an important question as to how the country's territorial integrity should be maintained. His intention is probably to encourage the Democratic Party of Japan-led government, which has little interest in territorial issues, to change its attitude on the matter.

The Senkaku Islands were incorporated into Japanese territory during the Meiji era (1868-1912). The government sold most of the islands to an individual 80 years ago.

The owner of the islets has changed due to inheritance and transfers. Owners have been approached by many people who want to buy the islands.


Private ownership unstable

If the metropolitan government purchases the islands, they will no longer be under individual ownership, which tends to be unstable.

According to Ishihara, the metropolitan government plans to purchase three of the Senkaku Islands, including Uotsurijima island. The metropolitan government and the owner have already reached a broad agreement on the sale, and negotiations have entered the final stage.

Soliciting donations is one possibility to collect the money to buy the islets, but much of the cost is expected to be covered by taxes paid by Tokyo residents. However, there are high hurdles to clear before Ishihara's plan can be realized, including obtaining approval from the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly.

One important point is to develop a system to stably maintain and conserve the Senkaku Islands over the long term.

The government leased the Senkaku Islands from the owners in 2002, in a bid to make it easier for the government to regulate Japanese people's landing on the islands without permission and illegal landings by foreigners.

Even if the metropolitan government buys the islands, it is the central government that has the diplomatic and defense authority necessary to maintain Japanese territory. As long as there is expected to be friction between China and the metropolitan government over the sale of the islands, the central government should get involved in the matter.

The central and metropolitan governments must closely discuss the matter and conduct the necessary coordination. One idea could be to have discussions between the central and metropolitan governments and the owner of the three islets.


China's claims unreasonable

The Chinese government has objected to Ishihara's announcements, saying, "All unilateral measures by Japan are illegal and invalid." However, China's claim of sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands is unreasonable in terms of the history of the Senkakus and international law.

A Chinese patrol vessel entered Japanese territorial waters near the islands last month. China's repeated provocations are a problem.

The Japanese government needs to improve the Japan Coast Guard's monitoring system, such as by deploying large patrol vessels in waters off the Senkaku Islands.

A bill to revise the Japan Coast Guard Law that would allow JCG officers to clamp down on crimes, including illegal landings by foreigners, on remote islands such as the Senkaku Islands has already been submitted to the Diet. The ruling and opposition parties should enact the bill at an early date.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 19, 2012)
(2012年4月19日01時12分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-04-21 07:17 | 英字新聞

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