As the tensions continue to heat up between Japan and China over the disputed Senkaku Islands, a Chinese military official has proclaimed that the islands of Okinawa are also rightfully Chinese territory. Major General Jin Yinan told a state-run radio program that Japan’s return of the Senkaku (known as Diaoyu in China) was not enough, and that Okinawa and the rest of the Ryukyu archipelago should be recognized as Chinese. While the Chinese government has made no such statements in support of the leader of strategy research at China’s National Defense University, the comments are still unsettling.
Expert observers of Chinese policy have noted that the country rarely makes territorial claims outside of clearly defined borders, and questioning the ownership of Okinawa is fairly surprising. Some historians argue that the Ryukyu archipelago was an independent state before Japan took control in the 15th century, and even after being conquered, the kings of that state made formal tributes to the emperors of China. Okinawa was not officially recognized as part of Japan until 1879. To some in China, that is enough to question the legitimacy of Japan’s “occupation.” Even a former official from China’s Embassy in Tokyo, Tang Chunfeng, has spoken out about the acceptance of Japanese rule over Okinawa, and that there has been far too much restraint in China’s claims.
These comments come just after a poll in which 90% of mainland China respondents supported the use of military force in China’s efforts to protect the Senkaku Islands territory. While it’s not clear how much of China’s population stand in support of taking back Okinawa, many China observers feel this escalation of claims is a way to settle the dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu. But they warn that such tactics will only lead to a complete dissolution of diplomatic relations between the two countries. With actions of provocation from both Japan and China seeming to increase, unless they come up with a solution to the disputed islands, they may already be headed down that path.[via Washington Post]