Anti-Japan sentiment is spreading like wildfire in China, fueled by a recent decision by the Japanese government to buy three of the disputed Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea in a bid to "nationalize" them.
Protests were held in over 100 Chinese cities Tuesday to mark the 81st anniversary of the Mukden Incident that led to Japan's invasion of northeastern China in 1931. Celebrations planned for the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries were suspended. Many economic activities were also affected, and worries emerged about Beijing's possible imposition of economic sanctions on Japan.
Japanese politicians may have attempted to take advantage of Beijing's upcoming leadership transition to change the status quo of the Diaoyutais in its favor, but they did not expect the move would bring such strong repercussions.
In this time of crisis, Tokyo should rethink the possible role of Taiwan in Japan's foreign relations and security and learn how to use the improved cross-strait relations as a leverage to deal with Beijing.
Japan should negotiate with Taiwan on tentative measures for administration of the area. This would serve as a transitory arrangement to pave the way for an ultimate resolution of the sovereignty dispute. In addition, Tokyo should ask Beijing to respect Taiwan's jurisdiction over the Diaoyutais and rein in its patrol efforts around the area.
Tokyo and Beijing should realize that Taiwan can play a role in mediating the Diaoyutai dispute. (Editorial abstract -- Sept. 19, 2012)
(By Y.F. Low)