Tokyo: Japan has accelerated its movements to corner China in the East China Sea dispute. The country has purchased an uninhabited island in the East China Sea. Japan informed that they were to establish a military base on the island that they had used during World War II. China has objected to Japan’s move criticizing it to have sparked fears in the region.
The Japanese government informed that ‘We have legally purchased the Mageshima Island in the East China Sea. Japan purchased the privately-owned island for $140 million. Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary, expressed confidence that the island, which is located at a mere distance of 20 miles from Japan’s coastline, would help strengthen the security of Japan’s interests in the East China Sea.
‘The purchase of Mageshima Island is significant as a military base necessary for the security of the Japanese aircraft that travel through the East China Sea airspace. The Japanese government will soon develop a military base and a runway on the island,’ informed Suga. He went on to claim that the island, which is located between the Okinawa and Kyushu group of islands, holds much strategic significance.
Japan had used the airbase on Mageshima Island during the Second World War to launch attacks on the United States, but the island became uninhabited after the war. In 2011, the US and Japan inked a deal to use the island for testing fighter jets. However, as the US used the Iwo Jima base near Tokyo for the tests, the development plans for the island were stalled.
Under such circumstances, Japan’s decision to buy the island assumes much significance. Japan is believed to have challenged China by announcing to use the island as a military base. Suga clearly stated that Japan was planning to use the base to counter China’s growing violations into Japan’s maritime limits. In the last year, China’s warships as also its patrol vessels had violated Japan’s maritime limits 998 times.
Also, the Japanese government had released a report stating that Chinese ships had violated the maritime limits of the Senkaku Islands 998 times. Before that, the Chinese vessels had violated the Japanese maritime limits 819 times in 2013. Japan, therefore, criticized that the infiltration of Chinese vessels this year was at record high levels. In 2012, Japan had purchased an island to counter China’s threat. Therefore, the purchase of Mageshima Island also appears to be to challenge China.