- Created: Wednesday, 17 April 2013 14:59
- Written by Jack Edwards
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 232 April/May 2013
At a 22 February meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kashida, US Secretary of State John Kerry reaffirmed that the US supports Japanese ownership of the Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. Kerry committed the US to military support for Japanese claims in the event of an attack, the latest salvo of hostile US policy aimed at containing China’s role in world affairs.
Following the Second World War the US took possession of the islands and in 1972 handed them to Japan, to Chinese anger; they had been Chinese since the 15th century. In 1978 China concluded a peace treaty with Japan which left the question of the islands’ sovereignty as an issue to be resolved in the future. This rapprochement did not last. The capitalist crisis in Japan has compelled ruling class politicians to assert themselves internationally to regain domestic political support and to find new sources of profit. The Diaoyu islands – strategically located next to major shipping lanes and above some 100bn barrels of oil – have served as a focus. Tensions were inflamed when former Japanese President Yoshihiko Noda ‘nationalised’ the three remaining privately-owned islands in September 2012 by purchasing them for $26m. Mass popular protests erupted in 125 Chinese cities, demanding a boycott of Japanese products, destroying Japanese-owned factories, shops and vehicles.