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Xinhua: The U.S. Senate Complicates the Diaoyu Islands Issue to Deter China

[Editor’s Note: In a recent article, Xinhua reported that the U.S. Senate added an amendment to its National Defense Authorization Bill for Fiscal Year 2013, stating that, while the United States took no position on the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands (called the Diaoyu Islands in China), it acknowledged that Japan had administrative authority over them. Xinhua collected and reviewed many of its recent reports on the Diaoyu Islands. In the article it criticized the U.S. Senate for making a wrong decision and claimed that “the U.S. is the controlling hand behind the scenes on the Diaoyu Islands issue.” It further alleged that the U.S. wants to “use the Diaoyu Islands to distract and interfere with China’s strategic focus in order to deter China’s rise.” The following is a translation of excerpts from the article.] [1]

I. The U.S. Tried Many Tricks on the Diaoyu Islands Issue

According to Japan’s Kyodo News report on November 30, 2012, the U.S. Senate decided, at its full house meeting on November 29, to add a supplemental term in its National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, clearly stating that Article Five of the Japanese-U.S. Security Treaty, in which the U.S. outlined its defense responsibilities for Japan, applies to the Diaoyu Islands.

On July 24, 2012, Kyodo News reported that Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba told the U.S. Senate Budget Committee that the Diaoyu Islands are “an appropriate subject for the U.S.-Japanese Security Treaty.” He stated, “I have confirmed this with U.S. Secretary of State Hilary.”

The U.S.-Japanese Security Treaty was signed in 1960. Article Five states that in Japan’s territory, any attack against either the U.S. or Japan will be viewed as a threat to the peace and security of the two countries and that these two countries will take actions against their “mutual threat” according to their Constitution and relevant regulations. Since the U.S. gave China’s territory, the Diaoyu Islands, to Japan in 1972, Japan stole Diaoyu Islands from China. Both the U.S. and Japan have claimed that “Article Five of the U.S.-Japanese Security Treaty” applies to the Diaoyu Islands.

A. The U.S. Stations Osprey Aircraft in Japan for the Diaoyu Islands

On July 22, 2012, twelve U.S. Osprey transport aircraft arrived in Japan, despite protests on July 21. Previously, officials and media from the U.S. and Japan directly or indirectly said that one of the goals for stationing the Ospreys [in Japan] was to help protect the Diaoyu Islands. The Osprey transport aircraft are considered the U.S.’ most advanced transport aircraft. However, the two crashes that involved the Osprey this year created public concern in Japan.

According to the plan, the Ospreys will be stationed in Okinawa, which is the closest U.S. military base to the Diaoyu Islands. Given the recent development of (Japan) purchasing the Diaoyu Islands, it is hard for people not to be troubled by this, since the Osprey came to Japan at such a sensitive time. Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto, who criticized the Osprey as a “widow producer” two years ago, now keeps praising the Osprey. On July 22, he openly stressed “checks and balances in the southwest.” The BBC interpreted the “southwest” as meaning the Diaoyu Islands and the Taiwan Strait.

B. The U.S. Aircraft Carrier Battle Group Moves to Japan

Between July 7 and July 8, 2012, the U.S.S. Washington aircraft carrier battle group crossed the South China Sea, arriving at Yokosuka, Japan. It joined the U.S. Seventh Fleet. A Burke-class destroyer, a Ticonderoga-class cruiser, and a supply ship accompanied the U.S.S. Washington on its trip.

C. The U.S. and Japan Hold Frequent Island Combat Military Exercises

On August 21, 2012, the U.S. and Japan started a 37-day-long joint military exercise. Worth noting is that this is the first time that the two countries have held a joint exercise on island defense. For whom are they putting on this display of military might? At this sensitive, critical time, what message are they trying to send with this military exercise? Just why is the U.S. holding frequent joint military exercises in East Asia and Southeast Asia this year?

II. Encouraging Japan’s Right-Wing Forces to Develop

Japan is moving toward militant right-wing extremism. This will create a breach of the peace in the Asia-Pacific region. Mending this breach is the mutual responsibility of the forces for world peace, including Japan. As a member country of the world’s antifascist alliance, the U.S., out of its strategic interest, [not only does not stop Japan, but also] connives with right-wing extremists, weakens the efforts of the U.S.-Japan military alliance to prevent the revival of Japanese militarism, and provides a stage in Washington for Shintaro Ishihara, who suggested Japan should own nuclear weapons when he announced “buying the islands” and “declaring war” on China. These acts contradict the world’s antifascist righteous position and contradict the people’s hope of protecting their own existence and their environment for development. It is time for the U.S. to stop its actions now!

III. Japan’s Right-Wing Forces Are Rising

A. Shinzo Abe’s High Profile as the “Worshipping Ghost”

On October 17, 2012, Shinzo Abe, President of the Liberal Democratic Party, worshipped at the Yasukuni Shrine [a war shrine seen as a symbol of Japanese militarism]. Japan’s Daily News said this was done to “flatter” the conservative forces. This former Prime Minister, whose sudden resignation due to a “stomachache” surprised the whole of Japan, is trying to stage a come-back. He used “extremely painful and regretful” to describe his failure to visit Yasukuni Shrine while he was the Prime Minister of Japan and hinted that he would certainly visit it if he serves as Prime Minister again. According to many international media, Abe’s act undoubtedly makes the tense Sino-Japan relationship more challenging.

B. Japan Wants to Rename Its “Self Defense Force,” Calling It the “National Defense Army”

As Japan continues to escalate the issue of the ownership of the islands, it repeatedly throws out politicians’ appeals to upgrade its “Self Defense Force” to become a “National Defense Army.” Taking these actions at this sensitive time, is Japan challenging the limit of the world’s tolerance?

If the “Self Defense Force” is renamed the “National Defense Army,” it is against Japan’s current Peace Constitution. Why do Japanese politicians openly promote it?

C. Japan’s Plan to Develop Nuclear Weapons Makes the World Uneasy

Facing the Japanese public’s anti-nuclear sentiment due to the Fukushima nuclear accident, Japan’s former Defense Minister Ishiba Shigeru said recently, “Having a nuclear electricity plan tells other countries that Japan has the ability to produce nuclear weapons.” This makes the world wonder what the real motivation behind Japan’s nuclear plan is.

Though Ishiba Shigeru didn’t advocate that Japan develop nuclear weapons, Japan’s current technology and resources make developing nuclear weapons at any time possible. Outside sources estimate that Japan could develop nuclear weapons within a year, given its current technology and resources.

What’s more worthy of notice is that, on June 20, 2012, Japan amended its “Basic Law on Atomic Energy.” It added the statement that developing atomic energy “contributes to national security.” This resulted in domestic questioning of the Japanese government’s long-term goal.

D. Appealing to Amend the Peace Constitution’s Restriction on the Right to “Collective Self-Defense”

On October 21, 2012, the Washington Post published a lengthy report pointing out that there is a “gradual, substantial trend to move to the right” in Japan. Japan has adopted diplomatic and military policies that are more confrontational than in any era since World War II.

The report said that the rightist movement in Japan shows that the Self-Defense Forces have a greater influence and that the mainstream politicians are pushing to amend the Peace Constitution.

E. Japan Greatly Exaggerates Outside Threats to Expand Its Military Capability and Prepare for War

1. In June 2012, the Japanese Congress passed an amendment to the Aerospace Exploration Institute with Independent Administrative Legal Representative Law. The change removed terms that space development “is limited to a peaceful purpose.” The law now allows Japan to conduct defense research in outer space and apply space technology to military fields, setting up the legal basis for Japan to develop space surveillance, space defense, and space weaponry.

2. Speeding up weapons development, manufacturing, and procurement. Japan has speeded up its development and procurement of advanced technology, including expediting the design and development of Shinshin, the next generation fighter jet, which Japan designed on its own. It is continuing to develop a helicopter carrier; it has initiated a large purchase of F-35 planes; and it has started importing the U.S. marines’ attack equipment, including amphibious tanks, and amphibious landing ships.

3. Continuing to station more troops in the Southwest islands and strengthening its monitoring of the East Sea. The deployment of electronic surveillance forces in Yonaguni, which was planned to be completed in 2015, will likely be finished earlier.

4. Conducting regular “island combat” military exercises and training. In November 2011 in Japan’s island combat exercise in the southwest islands, Japan took China as its imaginary enemy. Japan transported its most elite unit of the Self-Defense Force, the Number Seven Division, and its 90-class main battle tanks from Hokkaido to Oita Prefecture in Kyushu, which is a distance of over 2,000 miles, via high-speed passenger-cargo ferries.

5. Planning to set up Marines. Japan’s Defense Ministry started to pull 2,000 soldiers from Self-Defense Force units to form an “off-island defense force.” It started to train its marines on Guam and on Tinian Island, preparing to establish the Marine troop in a battle against China for the islands. The Defense Ministry actively prepared a budget to procure weapons and equipment for the Marines, including amphibious tanks and large landing ships to build up prospective Marines.

IV. The U.S. Senate Complicates the Diaoyu Islands Issue; It Will Harm Others As Well As Itself

The Sino-Japanese relationship has reached its lowest point in 40 years. Now the U.S. Senate has stirred things up again. Though the supplemental amendment on the Diaoyu Islands in the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 still needs the House’s approval and President Obama’s signature, it is obviously going to support the right-wing politicians in Japan and connive with them in their challenge to the international order established during the victory in World War II. This amendment reflects U.S. favoritism for and encouragement of Japan. It sends a mystery message to the world: The U.S. Senate does not want the Diaoyu Islands issue to blow over; it probably wants the conflict to escalate in the next year and hopes the Sino-Japanese relationship will deteriorate.

A. Do Not Play with Fire on the Diaoyu Islands Issue

The Diaoyu Islands issue is related to China’s sovereignty. The U.S. must fully recognize the high sensitivity of this issue, think about the stability of the region, and be careful about what it says and does.

The Diaoyu Island and its subsidiary islands have been China’s territory since ancient times. China has undisputable sovereignty over them. The U.S. government stated several times that it has no position and takes no side in the Sino-Japanese territory dispute. China hopes the U.S. will keep its word, but, regrettably, the U.S. has continued to include the Diaoyu Islands in the “Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.” We express resolute opposition to U.S. Senate’s action.

B. The U.S. Senate Is Too Nosy to Be Involved in the Diaoyu Islands Issue

The U.S. Senate passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. By adding the Diaoyu Islands into an internal U.S. law, it has gotten itself involved in the dispute between China and Japan.

The U.S. Senate thereby confirmed that the Diaoyu Islands are currently governed by Japan and therefore it is appropriate to have them under Article Five in the Mutual Cooperation and Security Treaty, or “Japan-U.S. Security Treaty,” that was signed in 1960.

It is the same as the several statements made by high officials from the State Department and the Defense Department. The U.S. Senate amendment on the one hand stated that the U.S. has the responsibility to participate in Japan’s defense if it can confirm that Japan is under attack; on the other hand it clarified that the U.S. has no position on the final sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands.

C. The U.S. Is “Overly Smart” on the Diaoyu Islands Issue

Luo Yuan, Major General and Vice Minister of the World Military Research Department of the Academy of Military Sciences, said in his report titled, “The Neighboring Security Environment and the Development of Soft Power,” that the U.S. created the Diaoyu Islands issue. Had the U.S. not signed the illegal “San Francisco Peace Treaty” with Japan behind China’s back in 1951; had the U.S. not published the “Geographic Realm of the Ryukyu Islands,” which included China’s Diaoyu Islands in the Ryukyu Islands in 1953; had the U.S. not violated the principle of the United Nations’ trusteeship to sign the “Return of Okinawa Agreement” with Japan and handed over the administrative rights over the Diaoyu Islands to Japan in 1971; had the U.S. not signed the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty in 1951 and claimed that it applied to the Diaoyu Islands; … Japan wouldn’t have been so boisterous about the Diaoyu Islands and the Diaoyu Islands issue wouldn’t have become so complex. From its actions, one can tell that the U.S. is the controlling hand behind the scenes on the Diaoyu Islands issue. It tries to create chaos over the issue of China’s borders and uses the Diaoyu Islands to distract and interfere with China’s strategic focus in order to deter China’s rise.

Luo Yuan said that the U.S. is overly smart on the Diaoyu Islands issue and will drag itself down. If the U.S. lets Japan challenge the historical decisions made after World War II and connives with Japan to go further on re-arming itself, not only will Japan threaten the security of China and other Asian countries, but it will also bring trouble to the U.S. If Japanese militarism resurges, it will challenge all the countries that won in World War II. It might first take revenge for the two atomic bombs and the bombing of Tokyo. It is time for the U.S. to rethink and revise its position.

[1] Xinhua, “The U.S. Senate Complicates the Diaoyu Islands Issue to Deter China,” December 4, 2012.