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2012年12月 8日 (土)

領土外交 冷静に主権を守る知恵が要る

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 8, 2012)
Cool heads indispensable for territorial diplomacy
領土外交 冷静に主権を守る知恵が要る(12月7日付・読売社説)

Defending Japan's sovereignty and the integrity of its land and seas while achieving a breakthrough on issues involving them: We urge every political party to seriously and responsibly discuss specific measures to deal with these challenges.

In waters near Okinawa Prefecture's Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, Chinese government vessels have repeatedly intruded into Japan's territorial waters.

This summer, South Korean President Lee Myung Bak landed on Shimane Prefecture's Takeshima islets--which his country controls--in the Sea of Japan, while Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev made a trip to the island of Kunashiri, one of Japan's Russian-held northern territories off eastern Hokkaido.

It is of high importance for this country to appeal to a wide spectrum of the international community to recognize the legitimacy of Japan's sovereignty over the islands in question.

As rightly advocated by the Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and Your Party, it is an urgent priority for Japan to strengthen its ability to communicate with the international community on these matters.


Be on alert night and day

Regarding the Senkaku problem, all major parties' pledges for the Dec. 16 general election, including those of the DPJ, the LDP and Komeito, are united in calling for the Japan Coast Guard to be given greater ability to deal with emergencies. Such calls are right and proper.

If China takes a high-handed stance over the problem, Japan must respond resolutely. But in non-emergency circumstances it should maintain control over the islands cool-headedly.

To do so, the JCG must conduct patrol and surveillance activities day and night and issue alerts every time a Chinese surveillance ship attempts to enter Japan's territorial waters.

There will be more cases in which the JCG must take measures to urge such Chinese vessels to leave the territorial waters.

Given that China has been rapidly increasing its number of surveillance ships, it is indispensable for Japan to beef up its fleet of patrol boats and the ranks of JCG personnel to ensure the ability to respond effectively.

Noteworthy in this connection is a proposal by the LDP to study the feasibility of stationing government officials on the Senkakus on a regular basis.

Nippon Ishin no Kai leader Shintaro Ishihara, for his part, has argued for building a port on one of the islands where Japanese fishermen could take shelter in stormy weather.


Avoid antiforeign nationalism

Although these proposals are understandable as medium- and long-term tasks to enhance Japan's control over the Senkakus, it should be kept in mind that such steps could touch off Chinese countermeasures, possibly leading to an extremely strained situation. The government must be circumspect.

With a view to coping with South Korea's claim to the Takeshima islets, the LDP has incorporated into its election platform a pledge for the central government to hold a ceremony on Feb. 22, which the Shimane prefectural government has proclaimed "Takeshima Day."

The LDP and Komeito advocate creating a new organization to be tasked with matters affecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

We believe it is more important to boost collaboration and liaison among such existing government organs as the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the JCG, centering around the Prime Minister's Office, than to set up a new organization.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda stressed in a recent street campaign speech, "Although wholesome nationalism is important, the country would be in jeopardy should nationalism descend into antiforeign rhetoric."

What Noda likely had in mind is radical statements by Ishihara, such as "We hate becoming a vassal state of China."

Japan has become closely intertwined economically with China and South Korea. Deterioration of the respective bilateral relationships would be bound to harm their national interests.

The task of constructing broad-range cooperative relations among the three countries is a prerequisite for peace and prosperity for all of Northeast Asia.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 7, 2012)
(2012年12月7日01時32分  読売新聞)


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