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Takashi Arimoto

【#741】Why Not Rebut Wang Yi’s Nonsensical Words on Senkakus

Takashi Arimoto / 2020.12.02 (Wed)

November 30, 2020


Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent visit to Japan has made it absolutely clear that (1) Japan should not invite Chinese President Xi Jinping as state guest and that (2) the Japanese government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party lack the zeal to defend the Senkaku Islands.

Cancel Xi’s state visit to Japan

Wang’s visit had a natural purpose of paving the way for Xi’s state visit to Japan, which had been scheduled for last spring and has been put off due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. But Wang’s visit proved counterproductive due to a series of remarks by him. According to the Chinese embassy in Tokyo, Wang at his talks with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi on the night of November 24 said, “the COVID-19 is still raging around the world, which has accelerated changes in the international landscape. The world is entering a period of turbulence and transformation.” The remark indicates that he saw the pandemic as someone else’s problem. The novel coronavirus has originated from the southern Chinese city of Wuhan and China is responsible for spreading the virus across the world. It should disclose what happened in Wuhan and make an apology to the world.

As for the Senkaku Islands that are an inherent part of Japan’s territory, Wang told a joint press conference after the talks that the China Coast Guard had no choice but to react to unidentified Japanese fishing boats or disguised ones that entered waters near the islands, justifying CCG ships’ intrusion into Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkakus.

Instead of reiterating a vague request for China to take a “positive” action regarding the Senkaku issue, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and other Japanese officials should have told Wang that Japan at any cost would defend the Senkakus as they are part of its territory.

Wang failed to explain any measure to improve the human rights problem in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, and Tibet. It was clear that the situation does not allow Japan to invite Xi as state guest. Wang, the vanguard of China’s so-called “wolf warrior” diplomacy, had done nothing more than adding fuel to Japanese people’s anti-China sentiment.

Take legislative actions to defend Senkakus 

Motegi at his talks with Wang actually took up the Senkaku issue and Chinese fishing boats’ operations at the Yamato Bank within Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan, as well as human rights situation in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and other regions. At the joint press conference, however, Motegi refrained from rebutting Wang’s unilateral assertion on the Senkaku Islands and closed the press conference with the word “xiexie (thank you).” As a matter of course, he came under fire at the Foreign Affairs Division of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Anyone who fails to make an assertion as needed would be only underestimated.

Also called into question is the LDP’s attitude. LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai had a lunch meeting with Wang on November 25. A Chinese press release on the meeting carried a photo showing Nikai and Wang greeting each other while smiling. There is no indication that Nikai took up the Senkaku issue at the meeting.

The government and the LDP are required to urgently take legislative actions for defending the Senkakus, instead of confabulating with Wang. A China Coast Guard bill announced by the National People’s Congress on November 4 clarified that the Coast Guard would take every necessary measure, including the use of force, if national sovereignty or jurisdiction is infringed by any foreign organization or individual. Japan should counter by revising Article 25 of the Japan Coast Guard Act. The article prohibits the coast guard from being organized or trained as a military force, inhibiting the coast guard from cooperating with the Self-Defense Forces. Japan, if failing to prepare for defending the Senkaku Islands, could lose them. The mettle of Prime Minister Suga and other Japanese leaders is facing a real test.

Takashi Arimoto is publisher of Monthly Magazine SEIRON at the Sankei Shimbun newspaper.