Okinawa Dragged Into China-Japan Island Battle

Newspaper calls for 'reconsideration' of Ryukyu islands' ownership
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2013 9:49 AM CDT
Okinawa Dragged Into China-Japan Island Battle
A US Marines' helicopter sits as a hibiscus blooms at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on the southern island of Okinawa, Japan.   (AP Photos/Koji Ueda)

China and Japan are already locked in a territorial dispute over one group of Japanese-controlled islands—the Senkakus—and now the Middle Kingdom appears to be eying another. An editorial published today in the People's Daily newspaper, widely considered a Chinese government mouthpiece, calls for a "reconsideration" of Japan's claim to the Ryukyu islands, which include Okinawa, reports the AFP.

The editorial, penned by scholars from China's leading state-run think tank, argue that the islands were a "vassal state" of China, but that China had been so battered by foreign aggression it was unable to fight the Japanese annexation of the islands in 1879. But the piece doesn't go quite so far as to argue that the Ryukyus are Chinese territory, notes the Wall Street Journal. "Our so-called 'reconsideration' is absolutely not saying the Ryukus belong to China or the Ryukus should belong to China," said one of the authors in an interview. "We’re pointing out the facts, telling the Japanese government that if there are questions about the Ryukyus, then they can’t even begin to talk about the [Senkakus]." (Read more Senkaku Islands stories.)

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