The ¥1.48 billion that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government collected in donations to buy and maintain the Senkakus is just lying idle, waiting to be used, after the central government nipped in to snag the disputed islets in September.

Money began pouring from last April after Tokyo's hawkish governor at the time, Shintaro Ishihara, said the metropolitan government would purchase three of the islets from their Saitama owner. China and Taiwan also claim the uninhabited cluster in the East China Sea.

But then-Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's administration beat Ishihara to the punch and bought the islets in mid-September. The metropolitan government's account for receiving donations was officially closed Jan. 31.