China-Japan relations: end of summer fishing ban risks further tensions over disputed islands

China-Japan relations: end of summer fishing ban risks further tensions over disputed islands

  • The Chinese authorities have reportedly warned crews to stay away from the Diaoyu Islands, also known as the Senkakus, to avoid further tension with Tokyo
  • Japan has complained about ships operating in the area, but some observers believe Beijing will be reluctant to risk a further backlash

Japan has said it will respond if Chinese fishing vessels return to the waters around a disputed chain of islands after Beijing’s summer fishing ban in the East China Sea expired on Sunday.

Earlier this month, Japanese Defence Minister Taro Kono said that Japan’s Self-Defence Forces would “act firmly when necessary” if Chinese vessels intensify their activities around the Diaoyu Islands, which Japan controls and calls the Senkakus.

However, some observers said the Chinese government may show restraint to avoid excessive friction with Japan at a time when its relations with the US are deteriorating.

“China doesn’t want tension with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands when its relationship with the US is becoming increasingly strained,” said Liu Nanlai, a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences specialising in international law.

“China will not take the initiative [here],” Liu said.