A Framework for Resolving Japan-China Dispute over Islands


How to make sense of the dispute between Japan and China over some half a dozen uninhabited islets in the East China Sea known as the Diaoyu to the Chinese and the Senkaku to the Japanese?

With a combined area of just a couple of square kilometers, and no permanent human use of any of the islands in recent decades, it is hard to see how the islands could nearly bring the two Asian nations to blows. But from a broad perspective, these rocks are laden with tremendous symbolic and historical significance.

For China, the status of the Diaoyu islands today constitutes a legacy of a period of Japanese aggression beginning in the late 19th century and continuing until 1945 for which Japan sometimes still fails to show proper repentance. In Beijing’s eyes, standing up for what it views as its proper rights upholds the post-World War II international order, which dictates that Japan give up the territories that it took from China in the war of 1894-95.

For Japan, China’s new interest in what had appeared to be a settled matter over the islands suggests a newly assertive China is bent on using its increased power for nationalistic purposes — not only over these particular islands, but also in other maritime domains of the western Pacific region. As such, beyond the immediate importance of these islands, the dispute could be a harbinger of unpleasant things to come.

Nationalistic politics in both countries further compound the difficulty of finding a solution to the quarrel over islands that both sides claim in their entirety.


Read more: http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2014/12/02-japan-china-island-dispute-ohanlon?rssid=asia+and+the+pacific&utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=FeedBlitzRss&utm_content=A+Framework+for+Resolving+Japan-China+Dispute+over+Islands