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The mayor and city assembly of Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture, urged the central government Monday to beef up security and surveillance near the disputed Senkaku Islands.

“We expect the government to defend the Senkaku Islands so the area is safe for our fishermen,” Mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama said after visiting the prime minister’s office. Ishigaki administers the islands in the East China Sea, but they are also claimed by China and Taiwan.

The city of Ishigaki adopted a resolution Sept. 28 expressing discontent over the release of the captain of a Chinese trawler, and another one demanding the Chinese government refrain from intruding in Japanese territorial waters.

The resolutions were sparked by a confrontation last month between the trawler and two Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels that ended up straining bilateral ties after the skipper was arrested.

Following the arrest of the captain, Beijing intensified pressure on Tokyo, such as restricting exports of rare earth minerals and suspending ministerial-level talks.

Other municipalities in Okinawa, which is near the uninhabited islets, passed similar resolutions.

Meanwhile, Japanese Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii demanded Monday that Japan demonstrate its resolve on the Senkaku issue.

“It is obvious that the islands are Japanese territory and the government should demonstrate the claim to the international community and China,” Shii said in a meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence.

Sengoku told Shii that the government and the JCP share the same position and that his demand would be delivered to Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

At a news conference later in the day, Shii rapped the government for not demonstrating Japan’s claim to other countries, although the islands are considered Japanese territory by international law.

Mabuchi views isles

Kyodo News

Sumio Mabuchi, minister in charge of Hokkaido development, took time Monday to view through the rain the Russian-held islands from the prefecture’s easternmost city of Nemuro after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recently hinted he might visit the disputed territories soon.

“I met face to face with former residents (of the islands) and came to understand that they have strong feelings about getting them back from Russia,” said Mabuchi, who doubles as land, infrastructure, transport and tourism minister.

During his first visit to Hokkaido since taking office last month, Mabuchi was also briefed about the history of the islands by Nemuro Mayor Shunsuke Hasegawa.

On Monday, rain in the area rendered the islands barely visible.

In late September, Medvedev reportedly said he would visit the islands soon, which would make him the first Russian leader to set foot on the disputed territory. The remark prompted Tokyo to warn him that any such visit would have a significant impact on Japan-Russia relations.

The islands of Kunashiri, Etorofu and Shikotan and the Habomai islets were seized by Soviet forces at the end of World War II.

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