Clinton emails show U.S. tried to heal Tokyo-Beijing rift over Senkakus


The U.S. government was accelerating efforts to ease tensions between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands in September 2012, according to emails sent to and from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that were released over the weekend.

An Oct. 2, 2012, email to Clinton from a senior official said: “We assess that the Chinese and Japanese positions are hardening due to a variety of factors despite a shared understanding that prolonged friction would be harmful to regional stability and the global economic recovery.”

The email was sent by Kurt Campbell, then-assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

“We are now engaged in delicate diplomacy with both side” to de-escalate tensions and find a face-saving exit, he told Clinton.

Campbell proposed sending “a small bipartisan group of esteemed former policymakers” who are respected in both Japan and China that would “speak candidly to our key themes of cooling tensions and finding a pragmatic solution.”

Sending such a group would carry the advantage of showing Washington’s “proactive efforts” to manage the issue “while not serving as a mediator,” he said. “If you agree to support this proposal, we would need to strike quickly, preferably in the next two weeks.”

In a reply sent six minutes later, Clinton showed her willingness to push forward with the measure. Clinton said she presented the idea to Thomas Donilon, then-national security adviser to President Barack Obama, adding that he sounded positive about it.

In his email, Campbell cited possible candidates for the team, although their names were redacted by the Department of State before releasing the email exchange.

On Oct. 10, 2012, Sen. Daniel Inouye met with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in Tokyo and discussed the Japanese government’s action to put some of the Senkakus in national ownership. The islands are claimed by China and called Diaoyu by Beijing.

The State Department is disclosing emails sent to and from Clinton when she was at the helm following revelations that she used a private email server for official duties.

  • Testerty

    And then the Japanese nationalized the disputed islands unilaterally…..

    • CaptainAsia

      They belonged to a Japanese citizen before that and Japanese have a history of living on the Senkaku. On the other hand not one Chinese person has ever stepped foot on the Senkaku and the only legitimization to the Chinese claim is to have sailed by a thousand years ago. BTW look what the Chinese are doing “unilaterally” in the seas south of China in Philippine and Vietnamese territories.

      • Testerty

        The islands were bought by a Japanese citizen from Taiwan. They belong to China. If based on your logic, properties in Japan owned by Chinese belongs to China.

      • CaptainAsia

        Even if what you say is right, which is not, then Taiwan originally owned the islands and not China. On the other hand look at Alaska which was owned by Russia and sold to the USA, would you say that belongs to Russia? Anyway it is fact that not a single Chinese person has set foot to claim the island while generations of Japanese have lived on these islands. BTW The Senkaku were never bought from Taiwan, that is just your propaganda. The Koga family had lived on these islands and over 200 Japanese worked there processing bonito. This is part of history, not some made up propaganda from the CCP lies department.

      • J.P. Bunny

        Chinese ships come near the islands, Japanese ships chase them away. Wonder who has a stronger claim to ownership?

      • Testerty

        Chinese coast guard ships patrol the islands on daily basis now. LOL. I recall Japanese officials crying it is not fair that Chinese police ships has big guns to scare Japanese away. Yes, you may cry now.