Japan to nationalise 273 islands

Tokyo: In the midst of growing military activities of China to capture the maritime area in the ‘South China Sea’ and the islands therein, Japan has announced nationalisation of nearly 273 islands in the ‘East China Sea’ and in the nearby area. The Prime Minister Shinjo Abe also made it clear that civilian colonies shall be established on these islands for the security of Japan. This activity of Japan may attract strong reaction from China.

Hundreds of islands are scattered in the maritime area of the ‘Sea of Japan’, ‘East China Sea’. It is believed that Japan has a legal claim over these islands. However, due to continuous neglect towards the development of these  islands for the last few years, a majority of the islands and group of islands has become uninhabited. As per the figures published by Japan, it is said  that  since 1955, the population of these islands has decreased by almost 51 %. These islands were abandoned by its inhabitants, who opted for Tokyo and other cities of Japan to make a living. Nevertheless, since past few months, it is feared that these uninhabited islands of Japan are under threat from the neighboring nations of Japan.

Out of these, the security aspect of ‘Tsushima group of islands’ of Nagasaki province and Yaeyama group of islands’ of Okinawa province may prove to become a headache for Japan. The ‘Tsushima group of islands’ that are located at almost an equal distance from the coastlines of Japan and South Korea, were the cause for tensions among the two nations, a few years ago. Although the said group of islands belonged to Japan, a businessman from South Korea had directly purchased a piece of land on this uninhabited island without the knowledge of the Japanese government. The Japanese government was kept away from this transaction.

The province of Okinawa is situated away from the mainland of Japan in the ‘East China Sea’, where the US has a military base and an airport. Regardless of that, over the last few years, China’s naval activities have increased near Okinawa. Last year, China’s warships were noticed sailing near the island; similarly helicopters also hovered over Okinawa island. Hence, Japanese military analysts are concerned about the security of the ‘Yaeyama islands’ which are part of Okinawa province.

In addition to that, China has claimed its territorial rights over five islands in the Senkaku group of islands in the East China Sea. Hence, to bolster the security of these islands, the Japanese government is planning to get these islands connected. Apart from these, security of many more such islands can be under threat from China. If China takes possession of these uninhabited islands or group of islands, then it may pose a direct danger to Japan’s security. Against this background, the Prime Minister Abe, in a meeting, took the decision of nationalising 273 islands. Under the decision, townships will be built on these islands. To make life smooth on these islands, development of basic infrastructure and ports will be undertaken. Prime Minister Abe has also given indications that employment opportunities shall be provided within the islands only. At the same time, the Japanese government has also has indicated that to connect these islands to other important cities and islands of Japan, the communication system will be enhanced.  At the same time, security system will be deployed to prevent the illegal infiltration  of foreign ships.

A few days ago, the President of Philippines Rodrigo Duterte had commanded his army to capture certain islands of ‘South China sea.’ Following this, the Prime Minister of Japan has also announced about the nationalisation of islands in such a large number. China still has not given any reaction on any of these two happenings.

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