Tensions are mounting on the rough waters of the East China Sea as both China and Japan refuse to withdraw claims over the disputed isles. There is no end in sight to the crisis with China setting off to embattle the waters, while the Japanese are solidifying their stance.
Suffering both domestic and International setbacks in the recent months, Prime Minister Naoto Kan is mired in severe public discontent. With his approval ratings plunging to a new low, Kan, missing no opportunity, reiterated his claim on the isles on Wednesday, attempting to regain confidence of the Japanese public.
As far as Japan is concerned, there is no territorial issue connected to the Senkaku Islands. In fact, the Senkaku Islands are...inherent territory of Japan that is recognized in our history and also by international law, he told the CNN in an interview.
The prime minister also maintained that China needs to behave in accordance with international rules. However, analysts say that the phrase 'Inherent territory' might help Kan manage the sliding approval ratings within the country but beyond the borders could weaken the diplomatic knots.
The disputed, yet uninhabited islands in the East China Sea are claimed as a sovereign territory by China, Japan and Taiwan. China calls the region as Diaoyu while Japan refers to it as Senkaku islands. Surrounding the islands lie rich fishing grounds and huge deposits of gas and oil reserves.
In Japan, Asahi Shimbun's weekend survey, which was released on Tuesday, indicated that the approval rating for Prime Minister Naoto Kan's Cabinet plunged to 27 per cent.
The public has grown increasingly frustrated by the government's bungling of foreign policy, the survey reported.
The main source of the public's discontent appears to be the Cabinet's handling of foreign affairs. An overwhelming 77 per cent of the respondents disapproved of the government's foreign policy, it added.
Little progress during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Yokohama and Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev visiting Kunashiri disputed Kuril Islands in the Northern Territories early this month are believed to have marred Kan's eminence.
Meanwhile, the Chinese have set sail to the territorial waters of the Diaoyu Islands with a fishery patrol vessel equipped with two helicopters on Tuesday. Xinhua quoted an official as stating that the 2,580-tonnage Yuzheng 310 was the fastest fishery patrol vessel and had the most sophisticated technologies.
The Japanese have also evenly responded as they began contemplating on introducing at least 10 new patrol planes over the next five years.
In Tokyo, the Kan administration is also running out of allies and the government is troubled by no-confidence motions prompted by the recent events near Senkaku islands. Dissolution of the Lower House following snap elections are also on the cards. Observers say that this might compel the Japanese authorities to intensify their resistance to the Chinese claims on the isles.
Kan's cabinet has also been eying the investigations of the Youtube video-leak to salvage their below par image. The video which showed a Chinese fishing boat ramming into the Japanese Coast Guard vessel near Senkaku is now being scrutinized by Japan to assert its authenticity. Tokyo is likely to speed up the investigation and press on the compensation claims from China for the damage to its patrol boats. Though the neighbor could remain unmoved, a step up is likely to promote buoyancy within the domestic affairs of Japan over the next few months.