Hiroyuki Kurihara and his family took over the title to the Senkaku Islands in the 1970’s and since then they have refused all purchase offers from individuals and corporations. They have adhered to the strict wishes of the original owners; that the small islets never be sold, except to either the Japanese government, or a publicly owned organization. Out of the five islets in the East China Sea that make up the Senkakus, the family has agreed with Shintaro Ishihara, the governor of Tokyo, to sell three of the four that they own to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Last month, governor Ishihara announced his intentions to buy the islands, surprising both the Japanese public and the nation’s central government. As a firm nationalist, for many years he has wanted to secure the islands for Japan and bring an end to the disputes with China over the territory. Japan has long claimed the islet cluster at part its territory, but in more practical terms, the waters of the area are a vital asset to Japan’s fishing industry. Just a few weeks ago the Tokyo government began accepting donations to be used for the purchase, and in only a matter of days over 76 million yen (approx. $945,600) was given by the public.
In a recent interview, Kurihara, who serves as the spokesman for the family and their businesses, stated that they are moving ahead with the purchase because Ishihara is not acting as an individual, and should the deal be finalized, the ownership title would be held by the Tokyo government. Only three of the family’s islet will be sold, as the Defense Ministry leases the fourth, and the United States conducts bombing exercises there. The purchasing price hasn’t been made public, but Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has stated that the central government now has an interest in purchasing the territory. Kurihara has said the negotiations are far from over, and the next step will probably be a meeting between the three parties of himself and the Tokyo and national governments.
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