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2012年6月13日 (水)

丹羽大使発言 「尖閣」で対中配慮は無用だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 13, 2012)
No need to pander to China over Senkaku Islands
丹羽大使発言 「尖閣」で対中配慮は無用だ(6月12日付・読売社説)

Japan has many pressing political issues with China. Was it wise to appoint a former executive of a trading house, which has business interests in China, as ambassador to that country? Such concerns have turned out to be well-founded.

At Monday's hearing at the House of Representatives Audit and Oversight of Administration Committee, the Tokyo metropolitan government's plan to purchase some of the Senkaku Islands was on the agenda.

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara attended the meeting as an unsworn witness. He argued that Ambassador Uichiro Niwa, who opposed the purchase plan, should be dismissed because his statements contravene the government's intentions.

Irrespective of whether Niwa should be fired or not, his remarks have certainly opened up a can of worms.

In an interview published in Thursday's issue of the British paper Financial Times, Niwa said, "It will result in an extremely grave crisis in relations between Japan and China" if the Tokyo government purchases some of the Senkaku Islands.

The proposal puts at risk the progress achieved since the countries normalized relations in 1972, he added.


Envoy must be careful

As the Senkaku purchase initiative is being spearheaded by Ishihara, a hawk on China, Niwa apparently feared Beijing would only become more agitated by the plan.

However, his remarks raise doubts about his insights as an ambassador. A nation's territories are essential elements of that country. Giving such self-centered consideration to China is unpardonable.

It was only natural that Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura denied Niwa's comments represented the government's position. "It is his personal view and was absolutely not an announcement of the government's standpoint," Fujimura said.

The purchase of the islands is a domestic business transaction. It is fundamentally wrong to regard it as a diplomatic issue between Japan and China. Turning the Senkaku Islands, which are owned by private citizens, into public property would ensure foreign countries cannot purchase them and increase the stability of their legal status as a national territory.

Niwa, after being rebuked by the Foreign Ministry over his remarks, said he would not make such comments again and apologized. Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said Niwa would retain his post. However, if an ambassador who embraces a view different from the government's on an important policy matter is going to stay on, the government must explain clearly to the public its reasons for keeping him in this position.


Govt needs to do more

Ishihara also used the hearing to take a swipe at the national government's lax handling of Senkaku issues, and warned, "Japan's national interests could be lost." We can understand his sentiment.

Ishihara also emphasized that the purchase of the islands should, essentially, be made by the state.

We hope the government will cooperate with the Tokyo government and come up with measures to stably maintain and administer the Senkakus. It is worth studying the possibility of nationalizing the islands in the future.

China has frequently made provocations such as sending patrol boats to waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands and even intruding into Japan's territorial waters. These actions appear to be intended to change the status quo.

All things considered, Japan must galvanize its effective control of the islands. It needs to consider steadily reinforcing the equipment and manpower of the Japan Coast Guard.

A bill to revise the Japan Coast Guard Law to enable JCG officers to control illegal activities on remote islands also needs to urgently be passed by the Diet.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 12, 2012)
(2012年6月12日01時16分  読売新聞)


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