Japan should use English more in touting Senkaku, Takeshima territorial claims: panel


Japan should use English far more in promoting its territorial claims to the disputed Senkaku and Takeshima islands to the global community and there is little point in simply reiterating its official line that no dispute exists over the Senkakus, a government panel has concluded.

A report released by the panel Tuesday warned the government is falling behind Beijing and Taipei, which also claim the Japanese-held Senkakus, and Seoul regarding the South Korean-administered Takeshima islets, because it currently lacks the ability to communicate effectively with the international community.

It is essential that the government seek the understanding of the international community and win over third parties to gain the upper hand over the competing territorial claims of Beijing, Taipei and Seoul, the panel said.

In addition, it is a waste of time to just keep repeating Tokyo’s official stance that the ownership of the Senkakus in the East China Sea, known as Diaoyu in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan, is not in dispute, and that the Takeshima islets in the Sea of Japan, called Dokdo by South Korea, are Japanese territory, the panel further said.

The panel submitted the report to Ichita Yamamoto, minister for Okinawa and affairs pertaining to four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido that Japan has claimed for decades.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Yamamoto that it is important to boost the government’s ability to clearly communicate its position to the rest of the world, adding he wants the minister to follow up on the panel’s proposals.

On the Senkakus, the panel said an effective strategy would be to play up to a greater extent the fact that China only started claiming them in the early 1970s. As for the Takeshima islets, the panel said Tokyo should promote its past efforts to seek a peaceful solution to the sovereignty row with South Korea.

The panel also called on the government to compile more materials in English, create a system to translate Japanese articles and books into English and support Internet sites posting such information. It further said Japan should send more researchers to think tanks abroad, host more international symposiums and provide more English-language materials to Japanese living overseas.

  • pervertt

    This is absurd. The legitimacy of a territorial claim is not enhanced by the use of English, or any other language for that matter. Historical fact and evidence speak much louder than words alone.

    • I didn’t know property rights were dependent on winning a popularity contest.

      Of course the Japanese didn’t do themselves any favors by letting that UN crew search for resources way back when. If it were discovered by private industry, it would have never been announced and known to China, Korea or Taiwan until it was too late.

      They also don’t do themselves any favors when a city government has the power to bid on private land — which is an overstepping of political power, which only ended up (legitimately) angering everyone else in the region.

    • Primer

      We have seen the “historical evidence” proffered by China regarding its claims in the South China Seas: ancient Chinese maps show islands! They demand close inspection of all of the rest of China’s claims including those pertaining to Tibet.

  • nanka

    The use of English is definitely not the problem at the issue, which the world is well aware of. When Japan does not get the expected feedback from the world, it is because of two other reasons.
    – 1st: The world just does not care, Japan is not the center of the world, this is a thing between Japan and its neighbours. It is the acting and the behavour of Japan reflecting history, that decides to be on good or bad terms with its neighbours.
    – 2nd: The steady, blockheaded claiming “there is no dispute” where the whole world is actually noticing the dispute (i.e. two of different/opponent opinions or interests), makes Japan look like denying reallity and so for look like wrong in the first place before even arguing about the island claims itself.
    I think, Japan would have a much stronger stand with its Senkaku claims facing UN, when accepting the WWII wake status quo over all disputed islands (this can then applied to Senkaku too), for after any big war there are just no “rightful” claims any more, or we get a chain reaktion of “rightful” claims back in history to roman empire and further.

    • joe_shiki

      I agree with your first point, but not your second.

      Why would Japan want to say that there is a dispute?

      That would be giving in to China, who seem to want that. I suppose they believe that saying it is a “dispute” puts the whole thing in a different category. What would follow next?

      Now, Japan can complain every time a Chinese ship enters Japanese territory. This is clearly getting the attention of other countries, in particular the nervous countries nearby who are not so happy with China’s bullying tactics in the East China Sea, as well as Daddy USA.
      I suppose China is checking the Japan Navy’s response time and capabilities for an eventual raid, so when that happens, Japan can again appear the victim.

  • EnglishTeacher

    So, after all that stuff with Hashimoto, and the guy yelling “Shut up” at everyone at the UN, the whaling trial with Australia – THIS is the issue where they stand up and say, “Enough is enough! We need to improve our ability to communicate with the international community!”

    So…is this why they’re planning on doubling the number of JETs? So they can win more arguments with China? Are they done with that whole “grassroots internationalization” thing?

  • Frank Thornton

    That’s it! Let’s throw it at them in English…

    And another thing I can’t seem to figure out. When you have “multiple” countries claiming your island, how can you NOT call it a territorial dispute???