On Monday June 22th, the Southern Japanese local assembly of Ishigaki city announced their plans to rename a region in which they call the Senkaku Islands. This group of inhabitant islands in the East China sea has been area of dispute between their nation, Taiwan and China for almost ten years.
The plan consisted of changing the name of the territory controlled by Japan from “Tonoshiro” to “Tonoshiro Senkaku”. This was decided as a measure in order to avoid confusion due to there already being another place in Ishigaki, Japan with the same name. The measure is foreseen to occur before October 1st.
Following the announcement, the Chinese government and Taiwanese government publicly expressed their opposition towards this new measure.
The Chinese government immediately responded with anger as they claimed that the territory has traditionally always belonged to them. When asked about the issue in a press conference on June 22, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, said “Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands are China’s inherent territory, and China is determined ans resolved in safeguarding its territorial sovereignty.”
He continued to say “Japan’s adoption of the so-called name-changing bill is … is illegal, null and void”. He stated that China intended to engage in diplomatic dialogue with Japan in order to urge them to reconsider as well as further comment on the issue in the near future.
“We firmly oppose this move taken by Japan” said Lijian
The relationship between China and Japan has suffered significantly since 2012 when Tokyo claimed certain territories in these disputed isles, causing tension to escalate exponentially ever since.