Noda ¥2 billion Senkaku offer second in line

Kyodo

The administration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has proposed a purchase price of around ¥2 billion to the owner of some of the disputed Senkaku Islands, sources said Tuesday.

However, they said the owner has no intention of accepting the offer as he is eager to move forward in negotiations with Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, who wants the metropolitan government to buy the uninhabited islets claimed by China and Taiwan.

The owner was quoted as saying, “I cannot make Mr. Ishihara lose face,” underscoring the uncertainty of whether the Noda administration can pave the way for nationalizing some of the islets in the East China Sea.

The central government called on the owner last month to hold talks with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Nagahama but was turned down. A few days later the administration told the owner it was willing to buy three of the islets for “nearly ¥2 billion,” according to the sources.

The Kurihara family owns four of the five islets that make up the chain. The administration is aiming to buy Uotsuri, the largest, as well as nearby Kitakojima and Minamikojima, owned by the same brother. The fourth islet, Kuba, is owned by a sister and is not for sale at this time. The remaining islet, Taishojima, is already owned by the central government.

The metropolitan government said it had received almost ¥1.4 billion in donations from people as of Monday to buy the same islets.

The Cabinet apparently is trying to get the owner to reverse his plan to sell the islets to the metropolitan government by offering more cash than the local authority can pay.