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Japan having war history deja vu?

The Sankei Shimbun in Tokyo reported last week, again, that Japan is planning to station troops on Uotsuri-jima of the disputed Senkaku Islands because the People's Republic of China is likely to try to occupy it to make good its claim of sovereignty over the tiny uninhabited islet with rich fishing grounds and undersea oil reserves. It did so in June by quoting Minister of Defense Satoshi Morimoto.

Last week's report describes a scenario of an imminent Chinese invasion. China will send hundreds of troops disguised as fishermen to the islet with a heavy naval escort. While the coast guard patrol vessels of the Japanese Maritime Safety Agency are busy coping with the Chinese escort, the fishermen will land and stay put for occupation. To prepare for such a contingency, the only option open to Japan is for the Self Defense Forces to station troops on what is known as the Tiaoyutais or Diaoyutai Islands which Taiwan and China claim as their inherent territory. Morimoto was quoted as saying two months ago that the defense of the Senkakus is the responsibility of the prefecture of Okinawa but “the law stipulates troops of the Self Defense Forces can act if local authorities are unable to handle the situation.”

It seems that Japan is all set to deploy troops on the Senkaku Islands. But if carried out, it would repeat the folly Japan committed in the early 1930s. The debate in the League of Nations on the Tanaka Memorial in February 1933 made Japan guilty by fulfillment of its ambition of world conquest. In a December 1929 issue, the Chinese Current Affair Monthly reported Japanese Prime Minister Giichi Tanaka submitted a memorial to Emperor Hirohito describing his plan to conquer the world by first taking over Manchuria and Mongolia, then China, and then the rest of the Asian countries to force the world to realize East Asia belongs to Japan. The Japanese denied the existence of the Tanaka Memorial, and after the Mukden Incident of 1931, the debate on it took place at a general assembly of the League of Nations in Geneva, where Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka called it a fake and asked Chinese plenipotentiary Wellington Koo to produce evidence that it did exist. Ambassador Koo couldn't come up with any evidence, but argued instead the conduct of Japan since 1931 “is proof that there exists the Tananka Memorial.” After the debate, the general assembly took a vote on the Lytton Report that condemned Japan as the aggressor and a recommendation that Manchuria be restored to Chinese sovereignty. The vote unanimously required Japan to give up Manchuko and Matsuoka announced Japan's withdrawal from the League of Nations, which became formal in 1935 and set the Land of the Rising Sun on its way to world conquest till the fall of the Japanese Empire. The unanimous vote showed all member states of the League of Nations save Japan were convinced that it was the aggressor bent on conquering the whole of Asia, albeit the Tanaka Memorial might be a Chinese fabrication. The Republic of China under Chiang Kai-shek succeeded in proving Japan guilty as charged by its invasion since 1931. Just as Japan was proven the aggressor by fulfillment of Tanaka's world conquest plan, so will Morimoto's deployment of troops on the Senkaku Islands make his country appear as a recalcitrant jingoist bully ready to go to war.

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