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The Japan-China territorial row over the Senkaku (called Diaoyu in China) Islands looks like a brawl of a nationalistic group from one country against a nationalistic group from another country. But the number of people who have taken to the streets in Chinese cities shows that there are far more nationalistic and chauvinistic elements in China than in Japan.

We cannot simply call these radical elements in both countries activists; they are uyoku or rightwingers wherever they live, Japan or China. Nationalism and chauvinism must be rooted out before the situation spins out of control.

There should be an international forum at the citizen level to discuss the problem. Simply shouting at each other that “The islands are ours!” won’t solve the problem. Both sides must be coolheaded enough to listen to the other’s say.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) may be the best venue for discussing territorial disputes such as this, but the court won’t take up a case unless two concerned countries jointly file with the court. That’s really strange. The reasons the United Nations gives for imposing this condition are:

(1) The international community does not have unified law enforcement power.

(2) Each member nation has equal sovereignty.

The U.N. should re-examine the rationality of such provisions and get rid of them as soon as possible. Or does it think territorial disputes should be resolved between relevant countries even if that means resorting to conflict?

Certainly the ICJ must come into play in this case before matters worsen beyond anyone’s control.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

yoshio shimoji

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