The disturbing truth about the disputed islands between China and Japan, which were always Chinese.
The territorial dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands between China and Japan is once again disrupting regional security in East Asia. It hasn’t always been like this. How did the situation become so sensitive?
China and Japan have come a long way since they normalised diplomatic relations 40 years ago. Bilateral trade now exceeds US$300 billion annually. Every day, dozens of flights travel between multiple destinations in Japan and China, ferrying tourists and businesspeople across the East China Sea. China has opened six consulates general in different parts of Japan, highlighting the intensity of bilateral contacts.
This success was made possible because Japan and China decided to shelve their dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands back in the 1970s. Over the past 40 years, there have been all kinds of ‘incidents’ related to the island dispute, but the two countries have always handled them in a relatively cool-headed way. Their attitudes meant that no ‘incident’ developed into a major crisis.