U.S. warned government against buying Senkaku Islands: Campbell


The United States warned the government not to purchase the Senkaku Islands last fall, former U.S. Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell said in an interview Monday.

The Japanese government consulted with the State Department prior to the purchase, Campbell revealed, and was given “very strong advice not to go in this direction.”

The U.S. government, in urging Japan not to follow through with the purchase, stressed the action could “trigger a crisis” with China, which claims the islands for itself.

“Even though we warned Japan, Japan decided to go in a different direction, and they thought they had gained the support of China, or some did, which we were certain that they had not,” Campbell said.

The central government purchased three of the five islets from their private owner in September to bring them under its control. The action enraged the government in Beijing and sparked a wave of anti-Japanese protests across China.

Campbell, while reiterating that the United States takes no position on the disputed territory, stressed that Washington wants to see “effective, positive diplomacy” between China and Japan.

The U.S. wants circumstances in which “both countries appreciate . . . the cockpit of the global economy is in Northeast Asia, and they must get along better,” he added.

In connection with Campbell’s comments, a Japanese government source said Japan was asked by the U.S. government to be “careful” in handling the matter.

The source also pointed to the possibility that there was a “gap in perception” between Japan and the United States over the purchase of the islands.

  • It is very positive for US to clarify the situation. The staement by Campell helps to calm down the current awkwood situation among nations.

    Hopefully, Japan govt will take the ride to reach out and put aside the dispute. So many things are waiting for US, China and Japan to do, all are much more important than the Senkakus/DaoYu.

  • Because the crisis would never have been triggered if the national government had just sat back and let Governor Ishihara purchase the islands instead.

  • Kenichi Kino

    The Okinawa reversion treaty lists the Senkaku islands as included in the territory returned to Japan in 1972. The Senkaku islands were part of the Ryukyu Kingdom, it seems a very weak position taken by Mr. Campbell,

    • You definitely should read Dr Campbell’s statement carefully: US never takes side of the sovereignty; how could she return a territory to Japan in 1972?

    • Ken5745

      In May 1972, the US handed the administration of the islands to Japan but without any sovereignty.

      In the China-Japan joint communique signed to resume normal relations in Sept 1972, both nations agreed to postpone the decision on the disputed islands to the future generations to decide.

      Japan changed the status quo by opting to “buy” some of the island it did not own and nationalized them.

      With 25% of Japan’s total export going to China, I would assume that signing a trilateral FTA with China and Sth Korea is far more important for Japan’s economy than to squabble over these islands, whose resources can and should be jointly developed and shared among the claimants, China,Taiwan and Japan.

      Anything less is like cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face.

    • lobsang boshay

      Just look at where the islands are; like the Maldives (renamed Falklands by British colonialists) …..

      • aTinyKitten

        Only about 7800 miles out…