Japanese legislator lands on disputed islands
May 6, 1997
Web posted at: 11:40 a.m. EDT (1540 GMT)
TOKYO (CNN) -- A Japanese nationalist legislator landed on
one of a group of disputed islands, setting off a chain of
harsh words from China and Taiwan and a rebuke from the
Shingo Nishimura, of Japan's main opposition New Frontier
Party, said in a faxed statement it was his duty to inspect
"After landing on Senkaku today, I was convinced the revival
of a proud Japan and an awakening in people's consciousness
definitely begin here," he said.
The islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China,
are the center of a decades-long controversy between China,
Taiwan and Japan, each claiming ownership of the rocky,
uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
The dispute resurfaced last summer when right-wing Japanese
built a lighthouse on the islands, and protests erupted in
Hong Kong and Taiwan.
China labeled Nishimura's trip "an illegal landing" and a
"serious violation of China's territory sovereignty."
"The Diaoyu matter will definitely affect the normal
development of Sino-Japanese relations," said Foreign
Ministry spokesman Shen Guofang. "We hope the Japanese side
will take effective measure to remove the adverse results and
Shen's counterpart in Taiwan, Roy Wu, said much the same
thing, urging Japan to "exercise self-restraint and not to
create any trouble that will affect our friendly relations."
In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto was among
the first to criticize Nishimura.
"It is well-known that the owner of the land has refused to
allow landings there," Hashimoto said. "Do members of
parliament have the right to completely ignore that?
told reporters that the landing was "extremely regrettable," while
said the Japanese government would "calmly
deal with the issue."
Nishimura's statement, however, said he was within his rights
to land on the islands.
"The Senkaku Islands are indisputably Japan's territory," the
statement said. "It is a matter of course that a member of
parliament should survey Japanese territory."
Nishimura was accompanied by Okinawa politician Hitoshi
Nakama, who visited the island last month prompting concerns
of a provocation to China, and two others.
Japan took the islands, which belonged to China for
centuries, in 1895 after defeating imperial China, and
refuses to discuss the issue. China says the islands --
which lie amid rich fishing grounds and possible oil and
natural gas deposits -- should have been returned after World
Reuters contributed to this report.
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