October 9, 2012
The Japanese government’s efforts to defuse the controversy over the Senkaku/Daiyutai islands have been based on a fatally flawed premise: that Tokyo could get Beijing to understand that its actions are defensive in nature. Faced with the prospect of Tokyo Gov. Ishihara Shintaro’s purchase of the islands and then building something on them to both confirm Japan’s ownership and stand tall against Chinese assertiveness, Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko figured nationalization – a purchase by the central government – would cool tensions. After taking title, Japan would quarantine the territory, permitting emotions to subside as both governments figured out how to return to the status quo ante and then forge some kind of enduring solution.