Conflict between Japan and Two Chinas coming to a Head?

Up to six Chinese law enforcement agency vessels, roughly analogous to Coast Guard Cutters, have entered the territorial waters of islands administered by Japan, and Japanese Coast Guard Cutters responded. It does not look like the disagreement is going to go away quietly. Anti-Japanese anger is being nurtured in China. Both China and Japan are preparing for a leadership change, and no one wants to look weak.


Illustration: from CIA map

A good summary of events is here. A second source indicates the Chinese have “1,000” fishing vessels en route.

“And, whether we like it or not, Washington is involved.

The Chinese have taken an additional step and filed a claim on the islands with the UN describing its interpretation of where the baselines are drawn and enacted a national law that,

“prohibits foreign warships and vessels from entering the waters around the Diaoyu Islands without permission from the Chinese government.”

This seems to reflect China’s broader interpretation of the ability of a state to restrict access to its EEZ.

If the situation were not complicated enough, don’t forget there is a third party here, who are also inserting themselves in the mix. Taiwan also claims these islands and have also sent their Coast Guard into the area.

Photos of some of the players here.

93 thoughts on “Conflict between Japan and Two Chinas coming to a Head?

  1. Pingback: How to Create Enemies and Make People Hate You–China vs Indonesia | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

    • Definitively? Sorry, and trying not to be political, but nothing he says seems “definitive.” He says, Article 5…and that includes the Senkaku Islands. Then, he says we do not take a position on rightful claim and we support peaceful resolution/discussions or some such comment that returns a lot of grey shading. That leads to a follow-up question later, where his answer seems to return to the side of Japan more firmly. This talking out of both sides of his mouth, rather than definitively, is dangerous with people like the Chinese (or Syria, Iran, Pakistan, No. Korea, Russia, etc., etc.).

      Imagine how China would take it, if he said: The Senkaku Islands have been possessed and administered by Japan for almost 120 years, through two world wars and three regional wars, so in the US’ opinion, they are definitively the possessions of Japan, and the US is obligated to defend Japan under our mutual defense treaty. (Period, done, leave no doubt…) The Chinese could and would dispute that point verbally, but they’d have a much more thorny problem to consider — the possibility of turning a major regional conflict into a world war — over some tiny islands… Considering the long-term, big-picture viewpoint the Chinese take, this conflict would go away.

      It’s ironic, as this could have been Obama’s Reagan-at-the-Berlin-Wall moment. Now, it’s just more wishy-washy, no self-confidence/doesn’t know/understand about foreign relations mess…

  2. Japan is sending more Coast Guard assets south to counter Chinese incursions.

    “The strategy calls for a unit of small patrol vessels to be placed on a still undetermined island in the Yaeyama chain along with six 1,000-ton large patrol vessels on Ishigaki, the largest of the Yaeyama Islands, accompanied by port upgrades that will facilitate the move, spokesman Shinya Terada said Wednesday. Yaeyama is about 90 miles east of northern Taiwan.

    “The move would increase the number of coast guard patrol vessels and small crafts in the southern region from 33 to 42 by March, the end of the Japanese fiscal year.”

      • The US has refused to sell them F-16s. They really want F-35B vertical take off 5th generation fighters that are not tied to airfields that can be pre-targeted by Chinese missiles.

        Will be interesting to see how the next administration acts.

      • Their cutters do have guns already, 20 to 40 mm. I doubt if they have plans beyond that. Their CG is not military, and they don’t have a close relationship with their Navy comparable to that between the USCG and USN. They don’t even use the same fuel in their ships.

  3. “China Confirms Air Confrontation with Japan Over East China Sea” Chinese and Japanese fighters meet over disputed islands “The Japanese defense ministry said Tuesday that Japan scrambled against Chinese military planes about 200 times in April, May, and June, up from last year’s 80 times in the same period.”

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