A Japanese coastguard vessel passes Uotsuri, the largest island in the Diaoyu/Senkaku chain. Image credit: Al Jazeera English.
As the Chinese and Japanese governments continue their fraught tete-a-tete over the Diaoyu (Senkaku) islands, many people (particularly those who live in strategically important cities that would definitely get bombed) watch with concern as the two countries seem to edge closer to conflict. What this tense diplomatic standoff definitely doesn’t need is more nationalist activists attempting to land on the islands in the name of ridiculous flag waving jingoism.
Seven activists from Taiwan and Hong Kong sailed to the islands on Thursday to try, they said, to place a statue of Matzu (Goddess of the Sea) on the islands in order to assert Chinese and Taiwanese sovereignty over the tiny specks of rock currently controlled by Japan. The trawler carrying the activists reached within 40km of the Diaoyus before it was blocked and turn back by eight Japanese Coast Guard ships equipped with water cannons. A flotilla of Taiwanese ships was turned back with similar techniques in September.
Though the prospect of war likely doesn’t concern the type of person who would intentionally sail to the Diaoyus just to piss off the Japanese, tensions are running so high at the moment that any provocation could spark out and out conflict between the countries.