• Kyodo

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When Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in mid-May said the central government would purchase three of the Senkaku islets from their private owner, he hoped it was the right tactic in the face of then-Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s declared intention for the metropolitan government to step in and buy them.

Noda tried to proceed cautiously in his dealings with Ishihara, the owner and Beijing, which claims the small island chain as its territory. But following the start of hastily launched negotiations, a string of miscalculations resulted in Sino-Japanese relations being at their worst since the normalization of ties in 1972.

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