Iran's Press TV, 8/20/12:
Tensions are mounting between China and Japan over five islands, called Daioyu by Chinese and Senkaku by Japanese, claimed by both but now under Japan's control.
They lie on a vital shipping lane and have potential natural gas resources. The recent flare-up occurred when a group of Chinese activists sailed to one of the islets to erect their country’s flag to claim China’s sovereignty over them.
The nationalists raised Japanese flags on Uotsurijima just days after Tokyo sent pro-Beijing protesters who had landed on the island back to China. China had warned against acts "harming" its territorial sovereignty.
The Chinese detainees, who are activists from the Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands, say their move was aimed at countering the plan of Japanese lawmakers to visit the disputed islands.
The Japanese have also responded by staging protests and visiting the islands, an action condemned by China.
Press TV has interviewed Linh Dinh, political analyst from Philadelphia to further discuss the issue.
He is joined by Stephen Lendman, writer and radio host from Chicago and Jim W. Dean, managing editor of Veterans today from Atlanta on Press TV’s News Analysis.
What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: Mr. Dinh, Japanese activists have been saying that something has to be done about what they call provocations by China, but will the Japanese government take any kind of action of the kind these activists have been demanding?
Dinh: This is so baffling because you have to wonder what does Japan want out of this. What can they gain? Your viewers should be reminded that this was instigated by the governor of Tokyo. He is an ultra-nationalist, he wrote the book A Japan that can say No: Why Japan will be first among equals.
So he is a very belligerent nationalist who has made his reputation by bashing the US as well as China. So it’s just a curious move by him although he has a penchant for making outrageous statements - and now this outrageous gesture.
I didn’t know the governor of Tokyo had within his rights to purchase islands. So it was instigated by this one man . And normally when something like this happens you have to ask who is behind this. It doesn’t appear that the United States is behind this because the man at the front of it, at least initially, is a famous US basher.
So, why now? I mean what can Japan get out of this? because it has a rather weak case because these islands are very close to China.
And I’m not defending China here - China is very chauvinistic and has imperial ambitions itself; but what can Japan get out of this? Perhaps seeing that China is a rising power, Japan is going out of its way to reassert that it is still the top dog in Asia. But I don’t see how this can end well for Japan.
Press TV: Linh Dinh, we know of course Washington has naval bases in the region both in the Philippines, in South Korea.
Again let’s have your view on this - Would you say that the US is actively affecting this dispute?
Dinh: Well, the US is siding with Japan for now. It has claimed for the last several decades that the Pacific is basically its ocean, but I think China will actually challenge that.
But unlike, in the South China Sea where the US is siding with Vietnam and the Philippines in island disputes, it is keeping a much lower profile in this instance.
So, the future of Japan? You know, the US is in decline and Japan is also in decline; so China will be there for a long time, China is not going anywhere and is like an eternal headache for the East Asian nations so in 10 or 20 years when the US can no longer protect Japan and be an ally of Japan, Japan will still have to deal with China.
So, for the long term Japan would have to accommodate China because China is the biggest power in the area and is very resilient so it is an eternal threat to all the other countries.
Japan has to think long term and it cannot depend on the US to protect it even five or 10 years down the line.
Press TV: About this escalating, Linh Dinh, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan, he’s been criticized for not acting strong enough actually and he’s facing criticism that he should take further action.
Even some law makers, we’re hearing, are urging him to take military action.
So do you think that that is going to happen and that Japan may even be considering that option?
Dinh: Well, the last time there was a flare up over these islands China stopped the exports of rare earth minerals to Japan, which Japan needed for its industry so, I’m surprised that China has not retaliated economically yet. So until that happens I don’t see anything but this exchange of rhetorics.
Remember that Japan still has the stronger navy at this point so I guess that gives it some confidence and as has been pointed out it can quickly become a nuclear power, instantly.
China is catching up quickly and it won’t be too long before China will supplant Japan militarily as well.
Press TV: Linh Dinh, Let’s have your concluding remarks on this as well. What are you expecting on the ground?
What is going to happen at least in the near future?
Dinh: Like I said, both countries can be fairly chauvinistic and the nationalist rhetoric has been amped up, but I don’t expect anything to happen really… but you never know. Something that seems fairly innocuous at first can flare into something catastrophic - so I really don’t know, but I do not expect anything really serious to come out of this.