Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara has announced on a visit to the USA that he is negotiating for Tokyo to buy the Senkaku Islands, currently the subject of Chinese claims.
In a recent press conference given in Washington, he announced that he is negotiating with the private owner of the islands with a view to acquiring the isles for Tokyo.
The likely effect of an ultra-rightist Japanese politician buying the islands on China is evidently not lost on him:
“Whichever country we may annoy, this is so the Japanese can protect Japan’s territory.”
He says he will “likely purchase the entire archipelago” and reports that the existing landowner “is basically in agreement – our agents are negotiating.”
Although the Senkaku Islands lie within Okinawa prefecture far away from Tokyo, the idea of Tokyo possessing islands thousands of kilometres away is not without precedent – the Izu and Ogasawara Islands extend almost 2,000km into the Pacific and are governed from Shinjuku as part of the Tokyo metropolitan government despite having a population in the low tens of thousands.
The press conference itself was hosted by the Heritage Foundation, a prominent US conservative think tank, and saw Ishihara as guest of honour to discuss “The U.S.-Japan Alliance and the Debate Over Japan’s Role in Asia,” as part of their “American Leadership Initiative” – unsubtle code for better using Japan to help contain Chinese expansionism.
What the citizens of Tokyo think of their mayor using civic funds in order to provoke the Chinese and engage in nationalist grandstanding is not clear, but given that they have repeatedly re-elected him for doing just this, it seems likely they approve.
Predictably, the almost exclusively “net-uyo” patter which dominates the likes of 2ch and Twitter was well in evidence:
“Nice one, keep at it!”
“Next buy up Takeshima!”
“As expected of Ishihara, he’s a master at pissing everybody off.”
“I support you!”
“So who the hell owns them at the moment anyway?”
“They are apparently owned by a Fukuoka businessman.”
“Ishihara is a true patriot! Hashimoto cannot compare!”
“Why does this idiot have to drag Tokyo into his crusade against China…”
“Hurry up and die you old fool. If you want to buy them, use your own damn money and not so much as a yen of our taxes!”
“Even if Tokyo buys them, they don’t become part of Tokyo? It would just be land in Okinawa prefecture which is owned by Tokyo’s government.”
“Seeing him speak in public I get a bit worried as he looks as if he is suffering from dementia…”
“Is there some significance to the fact he said this in Washington? Like, he has their support?”
“He’s so clever to announce it in the US too!”
“Superb! Please Ishihara, spend my tax money any way you see fit!”
“Anyone criticising this is a Chinese stooge.”
“Please Ishihara, become prime minister!”