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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:54 03/09/2007
News Review #369: October 26, 2006

Taiwan Accused of Blocking Protest over Japan's Occupying Islands

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

Taiwan Accused of Blocking Protest over Japan's Occupying Islands
Monsters and Critics


The article reports that "activists" in Taiwan have condemned their government for not allowing a boat from Hong Kong to enter a port in Taiwan. And the government's decision was under pressure from Japan. The boat was carrying "activists" from Hong Kong claiming that the Senkaku Islets (apparently called Diaoyu in China) belong to them.

The real story, of course, is less dramatic. The Taiwan government did not allow the Hong Kong boat to dock because it did not apply for a docking permit, and the boat was not officially registered in any jurisdiction. The "activists" said there were casualties on the boat, but doctors dispatched by the Taiwan government found only minor bruises due to falling in the cabin in high waves. Needless to add, the Japanese government had nothing to do with it.

A small piece of wisdom acquired through history, and especially through the experience of the genocides and mass destructions during the last century, is that territorial greed delivers no prosperity to any of the party concerned. At the same time, rulers learned that while a territorial claim is an effective and convenient tool to incite their people, it also carries a high risk of getting it out of hand.

This is how leaders of modern states, albeit with few exceptions, have generally avoided to make big issues out of territorial claims, as they carry a vast range and great depths of resentments which could easily be lit and explode. And as a means to guarantee such implicit consensus among the leaders, if not to protect them from being accused of cowardice, international security frameworks have been established. Thus, aside from publishing official statements occasionally to recite territorial claims so that the matter would not be forgotten officially and internationally, aggressive actions have been avoided in recent years by legitimate governments.

Clamors by so-called "territorial activists" pop up from time to time in various parts of the world, and when real damage is imminent, they must be policed by the authorities at the time controlling the area. This is without regard to official claims of the relative governments as to the legitimacy of the control, which should be sought solution to elsewhere through peaceful means. Those "activists" act not out of patriotism or the well-being of their people but out of fear for themselves being unnoticed and their selfish interest in attracting attention. The best - and the obvious - way for the rational people to cope with it is to simply ignore them.

Note: For those interested in Japan's claims over the Senkaku Islands, see here.

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