Islands dispute: US and Japan draw up plans to defend disputed islands from China

THE Senkaku Islands are tiny rocky spurs, part of a scattering of islands between the northern tip of Taiwan and the Japanese home islands. They are rapidly turning into a flashpoint for war.

Beijing claims the islands as part of its historical inheritance — as it does neighbouring Taiwan, despite failing to seize the protectorate during the Chinese Civil War.

Taiwan, however, was a Japanese protectorate before World War II.

It’s a messy historical scenario, thought resolved through United Nations conventions and treaties established after the conflict.

But ongoing aggressive incursions by Chinese fishing boats — organised as a state militia — and a freshly militarised coast guard has seen tensions in the East China Sea flare.

Now, Japan and the United States are drawing up battle plans to enable their forces to fight together against any Chinese incursion. And their forces are engaged in their biggest combined war games, practising to do just that.

The biggest war games ever conducted around Japan are underway, demonstrating the interoperability of Japanese Self Defence Forces with those of the US and Canada. The nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is the centrepiece of the Keen Sword exercise which has mobilised more than 57,000 soldiers, sailors and air force personnel.

The Japan Times reports government sources as saying discussions are well underway to establish a joint response to any “emergency” on or around the uninhabited Senkaku Islands, which China calls Diaoyu.

“The plan being drawn up assumes such emergencies as armed Chinese fishermen landing on the islands, and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces needing to be mobilised after the situation exceeds the capacity of the police to respond,” itreports.

It’s a rapidly looming scenario.

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