Tensions flare up between China and Japan over disputed islands

Sep 6, 2012

There’s a new twist to an epic territorial dispute between Japan and China.

Japan’s government plans to nationalize a group of tiny, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that separates the two countries. Japanese newspapers are reporting this week that the government will pay the Japanese family that owns the islands the two billion yen, the equivalent of $26 million.

The problem is, China claims ownership of the islands, called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. The dispute has simmered for generations and occasionally boils over, as it did a few weeks ago when activists from both countries pulled stunts that prompted large demonstrations in China.

The Reuters news agency says the reported sale will likely fuel more tensions between Asia's two largest economies. No one lives on the rocky outcrops, but deep below the surrounding fishing areas are potentially rich gas deposits.

To learn more about the dispute and its origins, Global Journalist spoke to a panel of experts that have covered the region.


Linda Sieg, Chief Correspondent, Political and General News, Reuters

Martin Fackler, Tokyo bureau chief of the New York Times

Sheila Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations.