Opinion / Editorials

Japan must act responsibly

(China Daily) Updated: 2012-09-17 07:53

The friction between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands is growing with Japan intensifying its efforts to challenge China's sovereignty over the islands.

In an NHK program on Sunday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda reasserted that the Japanese Coast Guard will be allowed to make arrests on 19 offshore islands.

While the two island groups that are the source of disputes with Russia and South Korea - the four islands held by Russia off Hokkaido and the two islets in the Sea of Japan held by South Korea - are not included on this list, the Diaoyu Islands are.

In fact, Japan has put the Diaoyu Islands under the "protection" of its coast guard, a paramilitary force, since it was handed them illegally by the United States in 1972 as part of the reversion of the Liu Chiu Islands to Japan.

The Japanese government has even called for the coast guard's structural functions to be expanded and strengthened so that all possible measures can be taken to ensure "security" in the waters around the Diaoyu Islands.

China's Ministry of Agriculture is acting responsibly in requiring the fishery authorities of Zhejiang and Fujian provinces to regularly patrol the waters around the Diaoyu Islands in order to safeguard the interests of China's fishing industry and ensure the safety of Chinese fishermen.

The Diaoyu Islands have been China's inherent territory since ancient times, and their surrounding waters are traditional fishing grounds for Chinese fishermen. Each year more than 1,000 Chinese fishing boats enter that area.

When China and Japan signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1978, they resolved to settle all their disputes by peaceful means. Yet with its continual provocations, Japan seems intent on initiating a clash between the two countries.

Since the Japanese government started implementing its "nationalization" plan for the Diaoyu Islands, it has closed the door on a diplomatic resolution to the dispute.

But if Japan wishes to call itself a major power and a responsible member of the international community, it should have the wisdom and guts to negotiate rather than threatening to take "all possible measures" to seize China's territory.

China has stressed time and time again that it will never back down on issues of sovereignty.

We hope that these words will be heeded and the Japanese government opens the door to permit a peaceful resolution.

(China Daily 09/17/2012 page8)

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