In a publicity stunt so ridiculous it could have been cooked up by Glenn Beck, former Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara has suggested that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe build a lighthouse on the disputed Pinnacle Islands. This move, he claims, would help break the political stalemate that Japan and China have been sitting in for the last year, thereby improving the situation, somehow.
As every new month passes (and in Japan’s case, as every new prime minister comes through the Office), the Pinnacle Islands dispute becomes more and more ridiculous. Since the Islands’ disputed purchase happened one year ago, both Chinese and Japanese citizens have launched unauthorized campaigns to claim rightful ownership of these rocks, motivated primarily by a dangerous sense of nationalism. It’s beginning to feel a bit like a Monty Python sketch; just as absurd, but grossly less funny. Antics have included covert landings, flag planting, and protests in many large cities. This ridiculous idea about building a lighthouse on the Islands is just one more stunt to add to the growing list.
Why suggest this particularly curious move? In an interview with the Asahi Daily, Ishihara answers off the cuff that it would be a benefit to local fisherman who have trouble navigating about the islands. In my readings on the issues surrounding the islands, an official complaint and request by regional fisherman was not something that came up. Additionally, NO ONE who is interested in these islands has trouble locating them. For further proof, check out all the photos of the nationalistic amateur boat enthusiasts that have made it to the Islands so far. No, this is just a cheap ruse to cover up what he actually hopes will occur. It isn’t long before Ishihara gets to the point of the matter during this interview:
“(Abe) should make some kind of move to test the other party (China). Unless that happens, there will be no change in the situation…The world would be waiting to see what kind of reaction China made to such moves.”
Of course, as expected, this is nothing more than an effort to stoke to continually smoldering fire this issue has become. And although building a lighthouse on a disputed territory might indeed break the existing deadlock, it is in no way a resolution to what has becoming an embarrassing international matter. Breaking the deadlock and making obvious the transparent effort on Japan’s part to solidify their claim to the Islands are the only things that could come out of pursuing this suggestion. It’s just more treading water.
Image source: The Asahi Shimbun