Tokyo’s outspoken governor said Friday he would visit a group of islands at the center of a bitter territorial dispute with China in a move that could inflame a heated diplomatic spat.
Shintaro Ishihara, well known for his nationalistic views, said he planned to land on the uninhabited East China Sea archipelago—called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese—in October.
His announcement Friday comes as nationalistic sentiments have flared both in Japan and China after pro-Beijing activists who landed on the islands this month were arrested by Japanese police and later deported.
Japanese activists and local legislators also landed on the Japanese-controlled islands, despite warnings not to do so by authorities.
Ishihara, who has been soliciting public donations to buy the islands from their private Japanese owners, added that a team of surveyors, biologists and local politicians would visit the disputed chain next week.
“We will conduct a survey again in October. I will go at that time,” Ishihara told Japanese media Friday. “If I get arrested, that’s OK.”
In April, Ishihara announced he was in talks to buy the three islands—Uotsurijima, Kitakojima and Minamikojima—claiming that Japan was not doing enough to protect the territory.
The chain includes two other islands and an outcropping of rocks.
Senior government officials were reportedly already negotiating with the owners, the Kurihara family, hoping to finalise a plan to nationalise the islands by the end of the year.
The chain is currently leased to the Japanese government, which is also embroiled in a diplomatic row with South Korea over a separate group of islands.
In my opinion, why the hell is he still governor? Just *facepalm* You think they will stop this by now.