The government officially announced Monday that the Senkaku Islands will be placed under state control in a move almost certain to anger China.
The purchase of three of the five uninhabited islets from a private owner for ¥2.05 billion will be made official at a ministerial meeting attended by Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura, Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba and Finance Minister Jun Azumi.
The Cabinet is expected to disburse reserve funds and then sign a sales contract with the owner Tuesday.
The islets in the East China Sea have been under Japanese control since 1895, with the exception of a few postwar years before the United States handed them back.
Since the 1970s, after studies indicated there may be possible lucrative gas reserves around them, the islets have also been claimed by China, which calls the territory Diaoyu, and by Taiwan, where the islets are known as Tiaoyutai.
The government plans to purchase and nationalize the islets of Uotsuri, Kitakojima and Minamikojima, which it has been leasing from the owner for many years. The islet of Taishojima is already owned by the central government.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda unveiled a plan in July to buy the Senkakus to maintain and manage them in a peaceful and stable manner, after the Tokyo Metropolitan Government proposed purchasing the same three islets. It even ran a public donation drive to help pay for the deal.
Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has effectively accepted the central government’s purchase of the islets.
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