WASHINGTON – The United States urged Japan to consult with China before its provocative Senkaku Islands purchase in 2012, a declassified email forwarded to then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has revealed.
In the email, dated Sept. 3, 2012 — roughly a week before the Japanese government bought three islets in the chain from their private Japanese owner — then-U.S. Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell said he had urged Japan via Kenichiro Sasae, Japan’s vice foreign minister at the time, to “consult and advise Beijing on their plans.”
Campbell said he had requested Japan’s prior consultation with China when he met with Sasae on Aug. 7, 2012, in Tokyo. At that time, the Japanese government had “just concluded a round of deliberations and apparently their PRC (People’s Republic of China) counterparts were irate,” he said in the email.
“Sasae however believes that China actually understands the necessity of these actions and will accept them. (I’m not so sure.),” Campbell said in the message sent to senior State Department officials.
The Japanese government, which administers the Senkakus, purchased three of the five main islets on Sept. 11, 2012, effectively nationalizing the uninhabited chain, which lies in the East China Sea. The action stoked widespread anger in China and sparked a wave of anti-Japanese protests across the nation.
The email, entitled “Sasae call,” was written shortly after the vice foreign minister conveyed to Washington over the phone that the central government had intended to nationalize the Senkakus. It was declassified Friday by the State Department in connection with Clinton’s risky use of a private email server during her recent stint as America’s top diplomat. Republicans are focusing on the unfolding security issue to criticize Clinton’s presidential bid.
In the message, Campbell also said that although the government and the owner of the islands had agreed on a price, then-Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, a nationalist who kicked off the whole issue by raising funds for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s bid for the uninhabited islands, was “unlikely to consent” to the central government’s interference.