Whether it's a genuine attempt to steer Japan's foreign policy or a clever ploy to annoy political leaders in both Japan and China, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara's plan to buy three disputed islands in the East China Sea is a dangerous game that has the potential to drag both Japan and the U.S. into a shooting war.
"This is a very serious issue and it's full of uncertainties. If it's not handled properly it could very well lead to armed conflict," says Kazuhiko Togo, director of Kyoto Sangyo University's Institute for World Affairs, and author of Japan's Territorial Issues: The Northern Territories, Takeshima and the Senkaku Islands.
Ishihara startled just about everyone this week when he announced plans for Tokyo Prefecture to buy three tiny islands in the Senkaku chain from private owners. He said the aim is to "protect" the islands from Chinese encroachment. Both China and Taiwan claim the islands, which they call the Diaoyou Islands, and officials in China were quick to denounce Ishihara's plans.
"The Diaoyou Islands have been China's inherent territory since ancient times and China holds indisputable sovereignty over them," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
Japan and China nearly came to blows over the islands in 2010 when a Chinese fishing trawler rammed a Japanese Coast Guard vessel in nearby waters. Japan seized the fishing boat and crew, but released them weeks later after massive street protests in Chinese cities and heavy economic and political pressure from Beijing.
Fewer than 40 pct of residents and commuters in Tokyo take specific measures to prepare for a possible huge earthquake beneath the Japanese capital, despite high awareness on disaster prevention, a Metropolitan Police Department survey showed Friday. (Jiji Press )
The man under arrest for fatally stabbing one man and wounding three others during a 10-minute rampage in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, on Monday night, told police on Thursday that he wanted to hijack a plane at Haneda airport and fly it into Tokyo Skytree to take revenge on society. (Japan Today )
The 24-year-old suspect in the murder of a man on a street in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, on Monday is believed to have posted a profile online in which he identified himself as a "celeb NEET," meaning a celebrity without a job, according to local online news site J-Cast News. (Japan Times )
The proportion of single nonregular Japanese male workers in their 20s who have girlfriends stood at 18.7 pct in 2012, against 30.7 pct for regular employees, a government survey revealed Thursday. (Jiji Press )
Police in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, on Wednesday night arrested a 24-year-old unemployed man over four knife attacks within 10 minutes that left one man dead and three others injured on a street. (Japan Today )