Tokyo’s notorious governor Shintaro Ishihara has been warned by his own nation’s ambassador to China that his plans to buy some of the Senkaku Islands will cause a diplomatic crisis.
In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Japan’s ambassador to China offered Japan’s only official acknowledgement of Ishihara’s plans to buy the islands so far, and stressed the government would do whatever it takes to avoid standing up to China:
“If Mr Ishihara’s plans are acted upon, then it will result in an extremely grave crisis in relations between Japan and China. We cannot allow decades of past effort to be brought to nothing.”
As Ishihara intends Tokyo to buy three of the islands from their current owner in a private transaction, it is not clear what, if anything, the central government can do to stop him.
The main potential obstacle to the purchase, the fact that it appeared he was going to use public funds, evaporated after his antics went viral amongst the Internet right, and he soon received over a billion yen from some 70,000 donors keen on seeing him further annoy China.
However, as the islands would only be privately owned by Tokyo and remain politically part of Okinawa, Ishihara would still not exert any political authority over them, being limited to opening them for visits (the government rents them so it can ban visitors) and perhaps developing them – although this would probably cause more than enough trouble.