December 29, 2012 09:18
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said the new Japanese government will carefully consider stationing officials on the Senkaku (or Diaoyu) Islands in a interview on December 28, according to Jiji Press, a Japanese news agency.
Kishida's Liberal Democratic Party, which was recently returned to power after being sidelined for three years, promised to consider placing officials on the disputed islands during the campaigning leading up to the Dec. 16 elections.
While such a move would further damage relations between Japan and China, Jiji reported Kishida as saying any decision would be done in a "careful and realistic manner, and from the perspective of national interest."
Jiji also reported that Japan had asked the United Nations not to consider China's claim that the islands belong to Beijing because of China's extended continental shelf.
The islands have been a source of major tension between the two Asian powers, and on Dec. 25, Japanese media reported that Tokyo had scrambled fighter jets over the East China Sea after reports of a Chinese marine surveillance plane in disputed airspace near the contested islands.
Kishida also addressed an ongoing dispute over islands claimed by Japan and Korea. He said the government would consider holding government-sponsored ceremony on Feb. 22, also known as "Takeshima Day," according to Jiji. Takeshima is the Japanese name for the Korea-controlled Dokdo Islands, which Tokyo claims.
The decades-long simmering dispute between Japan and Korea has been mostly dormant until recently.
Korea has maintained a presence on the islets since 1952 when its coast guard was dispatched to the rocks nearly equidistant from the Korean peninsula and the main Japanese island of Honshu.
Japan also finds itself in a lingering territorial dispute with Russia over the southern Kuril chain (which Japan calls its Northern Territories). They have been in Moscow's hands since the end of the Second World War.
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