Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba on Tuesday said that the Diaoyu Islands will be included in a security and cooperation treaty between Japan and the US, in a decision worked out with his US counterpart Hillary Clinton, the Jiji Press reported.
This is not the first time Japan has made these kinds of statements but given the timing, after a series of incidents that inflamed tensions over the islands, analysts see the reiteration of these remarks as escalating confrontation between China and Japan.
Under the treaty, the US can establish, expand and use military bases in Japan’s sovereign territory.
Su Hao, director of the Asia-Pacific Research Center at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that Japan is sending out this signal as a kind of test. He said that although it’s not a positive move, the signal doesn’t mean that Japanese policy on the Diaoyu Islands will change.
A senior US State Department official was quoted by Japan’s Kyodo News earlier this month, saying that the Diaoyu Islands fall within the scope of Article 5 of a bilateral US-Japan treaty, as the islands have been under the administrative control of the government of Japan since they were returned as part of the reversion of Okinawa in 1972.
Wang Shaopu, vice president of the Shanghai Society for Japanese Studies, said that it is clear that Japan wants to get the US involved in the Diaoyu Islands dispute and back Japanese claims on a security basis.
“The US has adopted a double standard on the Diaoyu Islands. On the one hand, the US claimed that the Diaoyu Islands are included under its bilateral treaty with Japan and on the other, it said it won’t take any stance in the dispute,” Wang said, adding that Japan’s repeat of the statement will certainly provoke confrontation with China.
Liu Weimin, a foreign ministry spokesman, said on July 10 that any private deals made between the US and Japan after World War II concerning the Diaoyu Islands are illegal and invalid, Xinhua reported.
Geng Xin, deputy director of the Tokyo-based Japan-China Communication Institute, said that the Diaoyu Islands disputes are never simply between China and Japan and the US is always involved.
Though tensions over the Diaoyu Islands situation are escalating, analysts don’t see a violent confrontation on the horizon.
“The US needs Japan to achieve its pivot back to Asia, and now both the Japanese government and the US are being held hostage by conservative elements in Japan,” Geng said.
“So the US would like to see public sentiment changed from being anti-US to anti-China, but the US has no interest in jeopardizing relations with China solely for Japan’s interests, nor in resorting to military measures.”
High-level officials in China and the US have the ability to solve these disputes, and it is unavoidable that China, Japan and the US will have more political discussions and wrangling over the disputes in the future, Su said.