Metro government raising funds in quest to purchase Senkaku Islands

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government began fundraising Friday for purchasing the Senkaku Islands, Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said.

The metropolitan government set up an account Friday at Mizuho Bank for people to send money to help it purchase three of the five Senkaku islets in East China Sea, the metropolitan government said. The uninhabited islets are technically under the jurisdiction of Okinawa, but they are also claimed by China and Taiwan, which both raise a flap whenever Japan exerts its sovereignty over them.

“We’ve received so many phone calls (from citizens) saying they want to donate money. . . . Some even sent us ¥100,000,” Ishihara said at a news press conference.

Following Ishihara’s revelation earlier this month about his plan to have the metro government purchase the three islets, Tokyo received several hundred thousand yen in cash from 37 people who want to help Tokyo achieve that goal, as of Friday, the metro government said.

The metro government will set up a bureau Tuesday to draw up a concrete plan for purchasing the islands, Ishihara said.

Earlier in the day, Ishihara met with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, but he said he had no discussion on the metro government’s plan to purchase the islets.

But he said he warned Noda to be wary of the Foreign Ministry.

“I told him that the biggest hurdle concerning the Senkaku Islands is the Foreign Ministry. The ministry has no ability but to flatter the big power,” Ishihara said, criticizing the way the ministry handled a clash involving a Chinese trawler and Japanese patrol ships near the islands in September 2010.

The metro government is in talks with the three islets’s title holder, a resident of Saitama Prefecture.

The central government has prohibited anyone from landing of the Senkaku islets, which are patrolled by the coast guard 24-hours a day.