By Wang Qi, Sina English
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Wednesday that the Japanese government might grant permission to memorial activities by its nationals on the Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku in Japanese), indicating Japan's shift in its policy that its nationals are not allowed to set foot on the islands. This comes amid a chain of actions by Japanese side recently that strains Sino-Japan ties over the islands.
The memorial proposal, an attempt to mark Japan's existence on the islands in the name of memorizing war deads, isn't new at all. During the World War II, two Japanese vessels, which had withdrew from Ishigaki port and was on its way to Taiwan, were caught and shot to sink by US warplanes when sailing near the Diaoyu Islands. Most people onboard were killed in the incident. After the war, some had proposed to hold activities dedicated to the memory of those killed in action on the spot but failed to get approval, considering, say, it stays so far away from the Japanese mainland.
But they have not given up as they obstinately pretend Diaoyu Islands have become part of Ishigaki city, Okinawa Prefecture since 1985.
According to Japanese media, city governor of Ishigaki, in favor of Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara's plan of purchasing the Diaoyu Islands, proposed last June to the central government to hold memorial events on the Diaoyu Islands, but was turned down later for "unclear impact on regional stability."
Japanese media analyzed that this time, Fujimura's comments, suggesting the government's stance shift, intended to enhance the awareness of the notion--"nationalize" the Diaoyu Island-- in the Ishigaki city.
Japan's recent attempt to "nationalize" Diaoyu Islands was met by strong protests and denunciations from China. Still, brushing aside the eroding Sino-Japan relationship, the Japanese government kept compromising with the country's right-wing forces.
Tension between the two countries grows as of last Saturday following Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s announcement that the government will purchase the Diaoyu Islands. Three Chinese fishery administration patrol ships entered the waters early Wednesday off the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.
In response, Japan's Vice Foreign Minister Kenichiro Sasae summoned Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua to lodge a protest, calling the intrusion "extremely serious" and "unacceptable."To make the situation even more complicated, the U.S. would always act behind the scene.
In 1972, the US government transferred to Japan the jurisdiction over Diaoyu Islands regardless of China’s territorial sovereignty. Worse still, a senior US official said on Monday that Diaoyu Islands are covered by the US security treaty with Japan, which was interpreted by Japanese media as a backing to challenge China.
If Tokyo insisted on the saber-rattling of the kind, the scenario could be changed, but not really to the effect as the Japanese politicians sees fit.