- Japan might move to establish a small military presence on one or more of the uninhabited islands in an effort to reassert its sovereignty.
- Japan would force China to take on the role of aggressor even as Tokyo engages in some escalation of its own.
- There may come a point when doing what Japan has always done will not be sufficient for maintaining the status quo.
Since the Japanese government’s purchase of three of the Senkaku islands in September, China has launched a concerted effort to alter the status quo in the East China Sea. First, in anticipation of the purchase, Beijing promulgated a new law to bolster what it believes are the legal underpinnings of its claims to the islands. More dangerously, it has carried out more frequent patrols in waters around the islands, regularly sending government ships into Japan’s claimed exclusive economic zone, and sometimes into Japanese-claimed territorial waters.
Beijing’s goal appears to be to alter the fact of Japan’s effective control of the island grouping and to force Tokyo to acknowledge that a sovereignty dispute indeed exists, which Tokyo has thus far refused to do. In some respects, China is succeeding.
The full text of the article is available on the CNN Global Public Square website.