Japan, as you know, is in dispute with the Russians over some islands to the north - the Kuril Islands, and in the south, there's the Senkaku Islands whose Japanese ownership is disputed by the People Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan).
So, to celebrate, the government of Japan has decided it needs to purchase three of the five Senkaku islands: Uotsurijima, Minami-kojima and Kita-kojima—all owned by some rich bastard from Saitama-ken. Why does it need these islands? To better protect its borders.
The Senkaku Islands (尖閣諸島) as a whole, are also known as the Diaoyu Islands or Diaoyutai Islands, or god help me, the Pinnacle Islands.
It's a lot of names for a bunch of mostly uninhabited islands.
These islands are actually situated closer to Taiwan, than they are to Okinawa, which is in itself a fair distance from the main islands of Japan.
The Senkaku islands are considered (by Japan) to be a part of Okinawa-ken. You can look at the map above for the location of said islands relative to Taiwan and Okinawa.
For Japan, these islands are key. It's not just a greed thing. In this case, it's a safety issue, as it extends its territorial borders further southwest enabling... say the U.S., its ally, to be able to better defend it against the evil yellow horde... uh, by that, I sarcastically mean the Chinese.
It is true, however, that China is using a Swedish penis enlarger to show that it's THE big man out in the Pacific by being aggressive. But...
Let me change gears here.
Japan is looking to protect its citizens against a (currently) imaginary attack scenario by China, whom Japan would have you believe is looking to do to Asia what Japan did to Asian 70-100 years ago.
However... where the fug is Japan getting the money for this? And should whatever money they are magically printing up be better used to create homes, industries, schools, new samurai dramas and better tsunami walls? Maybe even spend some money on electrical power alternatives? Earthquake-proof the Emperor's commode? Something important?
According to Japanese prime minister Noda Yoshihiko (surname first), Japan wants the islands, and has told Tokyo governor Ishihara Shintaro (surname first) to lay off. Apparently Ishihara and the Tokyo government has been independently trying to purchase the islands.
Making the rumor mill, however, is that one of the country's nationalization plans calls for the central government to place the islands under state control AFTER they are purchased by Tokyo.
Prime minister Noda has been in contact with both the Tokyo government regarding its plans, and with the actual owner of the islands.
"There can be no doubt that the Senkaku Islands are part of Japanese territory, both under international law and from a historical point of view," says Noda stamping his feet and (in his head possibly making the nazi salute) (In fact... say this whole paragraph with a fervent German accent circa 1934). "The Senkakus are under the effective control of our nation, and there is no territorial issue with any other country over the islands."
So... what's on these islands? Apparently, there was once a bonito (a type of fish) processing factory on Uotsurijima, the largest of the Senkaku islands. On the island, there is the Senkaku Mole (Mogera uchidai) and Okinawa-kuro-oo-ari ant. The Senkaku mole is an endangered species, and its existence is threatened by domestic goats which were introduced to the island in 1978.
There are also albatross all over the islands, and Minami Kojima is one of the few breeding places of the rare Short-tailed Albatross (Phoebastria albatrus).
Here's some fun facts... in order for any purchases to be made, Tokyo's government would have to land on the islands and do some land surveys and such. But... Japan's central government has banned all landings onto the islands. That means Tokyo will never be able to purchase the islands. Japan has it's big city by the nuts.
As well... since the owner leases the islands from Japan's government on a yearly basis, the current lease will expire in March of 2013... so what are the odds that the central government will allow the City of Tokyo access to these islands or at least do so with enough time to complete the surveys for city legalities?Slim and none. Advantage central government.
Tokyo's Ishihara says that while he understands that the central government wishes to buy the islands, he says Tokyo won't joint their efforts: "I'll admit it would be acceptable for the state to buy the islands, but it would be better for them to let Tokyo purchase them first and then eventually transfer them to the state."
Ishihara said the central government's plan was "another populist idea of the Democratic Party of Japan," and told the ruling party to "shut up" about it.
Ishihara stressed that the owner of the islands has committed not to enter into negotiations with the state on a purchase deal, and said the Tokyo government would go ahead with its plan to buy the Senkaku Islands.
Here's more fun stuff: The Tokyo government has been accepting donations since April of 2012 from the city populace, and have gathered some ¥1.32 billion (~Cdn/US $17 million).
What the hell, Tokyo? Just donate more money to the people who have been displaced by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in 2011! What a waste of money! Why are YOU giving money to a government that seems to be able to magically print money as it needs it? Hyper-inflation everyone? It helped bring about a Hitler to power in Germany after WWI.
An unnamed senior official with the Tokyo government says that with so much money donated by its population, how can it give up the dream of so many people? As such, the Tokyo city government has set up a special team to address the matter under the governor's direct control.
And lastly... just because there really is a concern about an invasion, on July 4, 2012, it was reported that a Taiwanese fishing boat with activists on board was escorted near the islands by five vessels of the Taiwanese Coast Guard Administration . The activists had PRC's (China) flags instead of ROC's (Taiwan) flags saying that the islands belong to China. The Japan Coast Guard attempted to board the fishing vessel, but was driven off by the Taiwan Coast Guard ships and during the situation, a Taiwan Coast Guard ship apparently bumped one of the Japan Coast Guard vessels, scratching the paint.
Files compiled by Andrew Joseph