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Peaceful solution to the disputed Diaoyu-Senkaku islands

Yesterday I (Japanese woman) went to two Chinese grocery stores in Luxembourg to buy a bag of Japanese rice from California, Korean seasoned seaweed, imperial-dragon gyoza wrappers, and Taiwan highland (gao shan) oolong tea.

In Mexico and Spain, people mistook me as a local resident and asked me directions in Spanish. Similarly, Chinese and Korean people often talk to me in their languages. Happily, I try to make conversation with them, using some words which I have learned from Chinese, Taiwan, and Korean friends over the years (i.e., hello, 1, 2, 3,..., delicious, so-so, it doesn't matter, thank you, see you, I love you, etc).

Maybe, it was just a figment of my imagination, but yesterday one of the Chinese owners was slightly distant, not as cheerful as usual. Though, later I realized that she put two extra oranges in my plastic bag for free. Then, I thought of the ongoing dispute over the islands among countries.

Today I was reading two articles by Gavan McCormack who presents background information about the territorial disputes (The first article is translated into 中文, 한국어, and 日本語): "Small Islands – Big Problem: Senkaku/Diaoyu and the Weight of History and Geography in China-Japan Relations".

I find the following paragraph particularly interesting:

"As Kimie Hara of Canada’s Waterloo University points out, the US played a significant role in the creation and manipulation of the “Senkaku [Diaoyu] problem”: first in 1951 and then again in 1972. Under the 1951 San Francisco Treaty post-war settlement, it planted the seeds of multiple territorial disputes between Japan and its neighbours: Japan and 90 percent communist China over Okinawa/Senkaku, Japan and 100 percent communist USSR over the “Northern territories,” Japan and 50 percent communist Korea over the island of Takeshima (Korean: Tokdo). These disputed territories served “as ‘wedges' securing Japan in the Western bloc, or 'walls' dividing it from the communist sphere of influence.”33 Again in 1972 by leaving unresolved the question of ownership of the Senkaku islands when returning Okinawa to Japanese administration, US Cold War planners anticipated that the Senkakus would function as a “wedge of containment” of China. They understood that a “territorial dispute between Japan and China, especially over islands near Okinawa, would render the US military presence in Okinawa more acceptable to Japan.”34 The events of 2010 proved them far-sighted (McCormack, 2011)."

33 Kimie Hara, Cold War Frontiers in the Asia-Pacific, 2007, p. 188.
34 Kimie Hara, “The post-war Japanese peace treaties and China’s ocean frontier problems,” American Journal of Chinese Studies, vol. 11, No. 1, April 2004, pp. 1-24, at p.23.

This is also "a must read article" to understand why the ownership of a chain of uninhabited and uninhabitable islands has been disputed: "Troubled Seas: Japan’s Pacific and East China Sea Domains (and Claims)".

Violence is NOT the solution. Read about the ordeal of Mr. Li and his family

If people want to dispute, probably they can keep disputing forever. But, if we are determined to solve the problem, we also can absolutely do so. One possible way is to designate these islands a no-man's land of international scientific base dedicated to ornithology and study of oceanic environment.

In short, let us calm down and savor a cup of tea. Young future leaders from Asia also need to get together to share brilliant ideas and creative solutions, and to design our future together. Certainly, there will be a solution.


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