China and Japan are in the middle of a diplomatic spat after a Chinese fishing boat collided with a Japan Coast Guard vessel near some disputed islands, resulting in the arrest by Japan of the Chinese boat’s captain and crew for trespassing. (The crew was released soon after.) Called the Senkaku Islands by Japan and the Diaoyu Islands by China, the uninhabited rocks were claimed by Japan in 1895 and were administered by the U.S. during its 27-year occupation of Okinawa. Of course, the uninhabited islands themselves are not very important: it’s the rich fish and possible oil resources that both sides want access to. The fight has impacted the relationship of China and Japan in unpleasant ways, causing the upcoming concert of Japanese boy-band SMAP in Shanghai to be halted. Predictably, there have been demonstrations against the “imperialist” Japanese in China, a time-honored tool of statecraft across Asia, but hopefully the issue will blow over soon.
As usual, rocks in the Pacific are causing political problems again.