New Caribbeans [By Jiao Haiyang/China.org.cn]
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara is no stranger to running off at the mouth, but this time his remarks about three islands that belong to China take the biscuit.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda responded to Ishihara's proposal on April 18, by suggesting that the government would not rule out the possibility of buying the islands from their current "private owners".
On April 23, Yoshitaka Nakayama, the mayor of Ishigaki, the Okinawa prefecture municipality, which claims to have administrative jurisdiction over the islands in the East China Sea, tried to make a splash by throwing his support behind Ishihara's plan for Tokyo to buy the main part of China's Diaoyu Islands.
How could such an irresponsible character as Ishihara become Governor of Tokyo?
He started his political career in the early 1970s as the leader of an influential right-wing faction in the diet known as Seirankai (the Summer Storm Club). He has a long history of racial slurs, offensive remarks and intolerance toward foreigners.
From early in his career Ishihara, who aspires to become prime minister, has been a proponent of Japan rewriting its pacifist constitution and arming itself with nuclear weapons. During his campaign to be governor of Tokyo, Ishihara used the derogatory word "shina" to refer to China, and now he is using the derogatory word sangokujin to refer to some foreigners and, at the same time, is asking Japanese troops to be ready to crack down on them.
He denies the Rape of Nanjing, the mass murder and rape by Japanese soldiers in the Chinese city in 1937, and he has called for tougher military action by Japan against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and even China.
Nojima Tsuyoshi, editor of Asahi Shimbun's Chinese magazine Fresh Japan, called Ishihara a "contemptible scoundrel".
Now Ishihara has set his eyes on China's Diaoyu Islands.
For the 79-year-old Ishihara, the next general election might be his last chance to become Japan's prime minister. He is playing the Diaoyu Islands card to catch attention, advocating the purchase of three islands that belong to China.
With wishful thinking, Japan has been stealthily trying to turn the islands into a fait accompli of Japanese property.
Since 2002, the Internal Affairs Ministry reportedly has paid approximately 24 million yen ($301,279) a year to rent three of the Diaoyu Islands from their "owner", who resides in Saitama prefecture.
Japan's Defense Ministry is also renting one part of the Diaoyu Islands, which a relative of the Saitama "owner" claims to own, for an undisclosed amount.
This so-called ownership is non-existent, as the Diaoyu Islands are incontestably China's territory.
After Japan's defeat in World War II, the United States formally assumed control over the Liuqiu Islands south of latitude 29N, which encompassed the Diaoyu Islands, in 1952 under the implementation of the terms of the San Francisco Peace Treaty signed by Japan and the US.
This transfer was an illegal act as the Diaoyu Islands belong to China. China was not invited to the peace conference and has never recognized the treaty.
In the early 1970s the US adopted a strategic withdrawal in Asia. It wanted Japan to play a bigger role in their security alliance. In 1971 the US and Japan signed a treaty that again illegally transferred the control of Okinawa including the Diaoyu Islands to Japan.
Japan has been playing hardball over the Diaoyu Islands because the United States is standing behind it. Actually, it is the US that has made the Diaoyu Islands an issue. Since 1996, the US has announced time and again that the US-Japan security treaties cover the Diaoyu Islands.
Japan is an island country and desperately wants resources, but just because it thinks it has the US behind it, is no reason to covet another country's territory.
The author is a senior writer with China Daily. E-mail: email@example.com