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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #186: January 19, 2004

Activists mark islands' sovereignty

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

"Activists mark islands' sovereignty"
China Daily


Notion of territory, and conflicts derived from it, has existed almost since the moment lives emerged on earth, which was enhanced significantly in terms of definition and description after human beings appeared, thence becoming a subject of evolving and refining process of justification of greed, all the while most of such disputes in reality have been resolved by ever escalating military forces.

A small piece of wisdom acquired, especially through the experience of the genocides and mass destructions during the last century, is, perhaps, that territorial greed delivers no prosperity to either of the party concerned. At the same time, rulers learned that while a territorial claim is an effective and convenient tool to incite their people, it also carries a high risk of getting it out of hand, unable to be calmed down when so desired. This is how modern leaders, with few exceptions, have generally avoided to revisit territorial issues, as they carry a vast range and great depth of resentments which could easily be lit and explode. And as a means to guarantee such implicit consensus among the leaders, if not to protect them from being accused of cowardice, international security frameworks have been established. Thus, aside from publishing official statements from time to time to recite territorial claims so that the matter would not be forgotten internationally, aggressive actions have been avoided in recent years by legitimate governments, effectively shelving such explosive agenda.

The article introduced here reports that twenty Chinese "activists said" they set out to sea "to inspect tourism resources in the sea areas off the islands that belong to China" but were stopped by what the activists say as "Japanese warships and planes" so they "casted a monument inscribed with the words 'Chinese territory Diaoyu Islands' into the sea."

Considering that the article has originated in China, the tone of the report is, in relative terms, calm and reasonable. It is mostly made up of quotations by the "activists" as so called in the report, and there are no explicit expressions to honor them as heroes, or to condemn specific actions by Japan's coast guard.

The article lacks comments from the counter-part, i.e. Japanese officials, and as a background explanation on the territorial dispute, it flatly states that the islands are Chinese territory, and cites the Chinese side of the claim only. But considering the circumstances, this is perhaps as far detached position as a Chinese media could take, for their own sake.

There is no reason for Japanese people to commend the article per se. But the style is a giant leap from the hysteria the Chinese media used to fall into, naturally or by design, which could be considered a healthy trend in a way. But it could become a dilemma for Japan if Chinese media have found out that such a subdued approach is often more persuasive.

Japanese government has not made any notable comments regarding the incident. They have, quite a while ago, publicized their say on the territorial issue. It is titled "The Basic View on the Sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands" and could be found at the following URL.

Copyright © Japanese Institute of Global Communications