Taiwan makes common cause with Japanese on Senkaku/Diaoyu fishing

While North Korea absorbs the world’s attention (or at least the share of it apportioned to Asia), Japan and Taiwan have worked out a little deal that will give Taiwanese fishing boats access to the waters around the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. In exchange, the Taiwanese will expel Mainland Chinese fishing boats.

As per The Japan Daily Express…

Maritime experts believe that the Tokyo government was eager to sign a deal with Taiwan, which has only ever shown concern about the value of the waters to its fishing industry, in order to prevent it from partnering with mainland China to defend its claims. The agreement states that Taiwanese fishermen will be able to operate in waters within 19 kilometers (12 miles) of the disputed islands, which is part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Taiwan’s [minister Wang Jin-wang] says that the law states all other vessels entering the waters will be expelled.

Needless to say, the Chinese are not pleased. From our friends at The Global Times.

Although there has been no open cooperation between the mainland and Taiwan on the Diaoyu Islands issue, tacit understandings do exist. The strong stance from the mainland side in safeguarding the sovereignty of the islands has undoubtedly strengthened Taiwan’s status in its negotiations with Japan.


Taiwan alone cannot compete with Japan. As Taiwan seeks to maximize its interests, it won’t side with the mainland.

The Taiwanese authorities clearly know that the more tacit understandings they share with the mainland, the more respect Japan will pay to Taiwan’s interests. Totally splitting up with the mainland over the Diaoyu Islands issue would be a severe blow to Taiwan’s capacity to bargain with Japan.

So there you are. The latest wrinkle in the Senkaku-Diaoyu drama. Taiwan makes common cause with the Japanese on fishing rights, letting the Japanese come between Taiwan and mainland China.

Japan and the US reunited after no separation

The incoming Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama have agreed to a January meeting aimed at strengthening ties between the two countries.

Abe and Obama want to contribute to peace and stability in Asia. (Read: further coordinate their efforts to contend with China’s military adventurism.)

they will arrange to hold a summit in January to confirm the two countries will work to tackle issues in the region, with an eye on China’s maritime ambitions and North Korea’s rocket launch.

Abe wants to bolster ties with the US after the three-year interregnum when the opposition Democratic Party of Japan was in control and taking up the issue of the US military in bases in Japan. The ironic thing about Abe is that, in his ideal world, Japan would have more autonomy from the US because of the undisputed strength of Japan.

Already the Chinese communists are already warning Abe to walk a narrow line over the Senkaku-Diaoyu Island dispute and matters related to Japan’s imperial history in Asia.

Visits to war-related Yasukuni Shrine by Japanese prime ministers, the territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands, and issues related to Japan’s Constitution are fundamentals, the paper said.

None of these issues should be allowed to remain vague, it said, warning against Japan’s perceived nationalism and its possible tilt to the right.

The US, of course, is happy to deal with Abe. According to this article Abe’s victory would be:

a “net positive” for the United States and could in fact stabilise Japan-China ties.
“The view in Beijing is that their pressure tactics are working on Japan and I think it’s important to disabuse them of that,”...said one expert.

However, the question is if Japanese nationalism of Abe’s flavor can be directed. Can the US urge and support stronger Japanese resolve over the Senkaku Islands while extracting restraint from the Japanese over a separate island dispute with South Korea? My feeling is that a nationalist urge would see Japan press its case equally with the Chinese, and South Koreans who also a key US ally. If the Japanese hold the line with the Chinese but dial down the dispute with the Koreans, then I would say you are starting to see a very faint border drawn between the US alliance in East Asia and China, as you know, this blog is all about emerging Cold Wars in the 21st Century.