The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which will dispatch a survey party to the Senkaku Islands this week, will send another party in October, Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said, adding he plans to accompany the second trip.
The metropolitan government is awaiting the central government’s permission to send the survey team by month’s end. The trip would be in preparation for buying three of the five uninhabited islets from a Saitama businessman.
Ishihara, speaking to reporters Friday, urged the central government to quickly approve the application to land on the islets in August to conduct the prepurchase survey and said he wants the same team to visit the islets for a similar activity in October.
“Then I will go, too,” Ishihara said. “I will take the same staff and instruct them on-site. If (the authorities) are to arrest me there, that’s fine with me.”
Ishihara said he will not accompany the first survey visit because an approaching typhoon may affecting the timing.
The first survey team will consist of 25 people, including metropolitan officials, real-estate appraisers and ecological experts, and about 10 will land on the islets. If the permit from the central government can’t be obtained, they will conduct the survey near the islets after members transfer to smaller boats.
Ishihara also said he talked with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda for an hour and a half about the islets but did not disclose details of their conversation.
The Senkakus, in the East China Sea, are claimed by China and Taiwan and have recently been the source of rising tensions.
Weighing in on the issue over “comfort women,” the euphemism Japan used for the military’s wartime sex slaves, Ishihara denied that Korean females were forced into sexual servitude for Japanese soldiers during the war.
He said there is no evidence proving that Koreans in Japan were forced into sexual slavery, criticizing then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono’s 1993 statement acknowledging that Korean women were forced into sexual service for Japanese soldiers.
Chinese to wait till April
A senior member of the Hong Kong-based activist group that led the Aug. 15 landing on the Senkaku Islands says it won’t attempt another trip to the Japan-controlled islets until April at the earliest.
The group, called Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands, had planned to reach the islets in the East China Sea again in October.
However, it will take at least two months to repair the fishing vessel they used, the official said, adding that it collided with a Japan Coast Guard cutter during the landing,
Also, the waters between Hong Kong and the Senkaku Islands are usually rough during winter, making travel difficult, the official added.
For the group’s next journey, the official said he is not sure whether the Hong Kong government will again look the other way as it did earlier this month.
The Hong Kong government is reportedly talking with the Chinese government behind the scenes about whether to permit attempts to reach the islets.
The decision will likely depend on the Chinese Communist Party’s new leadership, which will be selected at its National Congress this fall. The meeting is held once every five years. Before its latest trip, the group visited the Chinese Navy’s Hong Kong base only to have its request for an escort rejected, the official said.