Senkaku Islands Landing Highlights Japan-China Tensions

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Japanese nationalists have highlighted tensions between Japan and China by landing on the disputed Senkaku Islands and raising the Japanese flag.

According to Japan Times, members of the nationalist group called Gambare Nippon were protesting in response to a similar demonstration by pro-Beijing protesters last week. The pro-Beijing protest was scheduled to coincide with the anniversary of Victory Over Japan Day, the day the Japanese surrendered and ended World War II.

The islands, called Senkaku in Japan, Diaoyu in China, and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan, were returned to Japanese control by the United States in 1971 with the passage of the Okinawa Treaty. China and Taiwan, however, both claim the islands as well, citing maps from the 18th century that show the islands on Chinese maps. Despite political disagreements between China and Taiwan, both agree that the Senkaku islands are a part of Taiwan. Japan does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation.

The according to Japan Times, the Japanese nationalists spent around five hours on a Senkaku island while the Japanese Coast Guard broadcasted demands for them to leave the island. Several of the protesters were politicians from Japan's Okinawa Prefecture. In the end, the protesters boarded ships back to the Japanese mainland, where they were questioned by authorities.

Though Japan and China have a centuries-long history of conflict, recent tensions between Japan and China date back to the Japanese invasion of China at the turn of the 19th century and during World War II. As both countries changed dramatically and rapidly following the arrival of foreign powers and technology, tensions over disputed territories led to the first Sino-Japanese War in 1894.

(Picture courtesy David Vasquez via Wikimedia Commons)

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