Territory tiffs get official PR spin unit

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

The government on Tuesday set up a public relations unit dedicated to promoting Japan’s side in the various territorial disputes involving the nation in an apparent effort to show the public that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is taking a strong stance on the matter.

The unit, set up in the Cabinet Office and consisting of 15 bureaucrats, will handle promotional campaigns to enlighten people both at home and abroad about the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, Takeshima in the Sea of Japan and the Russian-held islets off Hokkaido, an official in the new unit said.

Ryodo Shuken Taisaku Kikaku Chosei Shitsu (the Territorial and Sovereign Issues Planning and Coordination Office) was set up under Ichita Yamamoto, state minister in charge of territorial issues.

On Monday, two Chinese government ships stayed in the territorial zone near the Senkakus for more than 14 hours. Deputy Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki summoned Chinese Ambassador Cheng Yonghua to the ministry and filed a protest.

But overall, the government has maintained a low-profile stance over the isle row to avoid further provoking Beijing.