The Japan vs. China island dispute over the
Senkaku/Diaoyu island chain has islanders just south of the contested real estate in somewhat of a bind.The local government on Japan’s Yonaguni Island was in the middle of a promising deal to allow the installation of a radar base — something the dying local economy desperately needed. The base would house approximately 100 – 200 Japanese Ground Self defence Force soldiers … and their wallets.
At first the deal seemed to be going swimmingly, but then China started flexing its muscles. Now the islanders are afraid they’ll have Chinese targets on their backs if the situation escalates.
Gavan McCormack, emeritus professor and visiting fellow, Division of Pacific and Asian History at the Australian National University, said the recent ratcheting up of tensions between Japan and China has caused massive fissures on the island between some who want investment in the tiny community’s decaying economy and those who say the move puts the hitherto largely ignored island right in China’s crosshairs.
The radar arrays would likely be one of the first targets in a Chinese assault, should the tensions escalate that far — though war remains unlikely due to larger economic concerns.
Recent tensions led Mayor Shukichi Hokama, the island’s leader, to request an additional $10 million “nuisance payment” to compensate local landowners for the deployment.
The Japanese defence Ministry is taking the request into consideration.
“The MoD will continue to negotiate positively with the islanders, but if we do not see any progress, we will have no choice but to review the plan, including whether to deploy the troops on the island, MoD spokesman Takaaki Ohno said to defence News.
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