About ¥1.4 billion collected by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to purchase some of the disputed Senkaku Islands off Taiwan has not been used, metropolitan government sources said Friday.
In April 2012, then Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara proposed purchasing the uninhabited islets in the East China Sea and opened a bank account for contributors to send in donations. But in September that year, the central government, led by then-Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, outbid the right-wing firebrand and acquired them from the family that owned them, effectively nationalizing the chain.
The contributions had reached about ¥1.48 billion by the time the deadline for the donation drive passed at the end of January 2013. It is unclear whether the metro government discussed returning the donations.
The metropolitan government spent ¥80 million of that total to conduct field studies on the uninhabited islets, which are claimed by China and Taiwan. China calls the islands Diaoyu while Taiwan calls them Tiaoyutai.
In March 2013, the metropolitan government put the remaining ¥1.4 billion into a fund aimed at helping the central government make use of the islets.
Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe says the metropolitan government itself is unable to spend the funds unless the central government works out a plan to develop the islets.
Masuzoe maintains the Senkaku Islands are Japanese territory but said there is a high risk of military clashes in the waters around them, particularly in light of the deteriorating bilateral relations with China.
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