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July 22, 2017

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Negotiation may be the only way to avoid Senkaku violence

Hiroyuki Kurihara (栗原弘行), a relative of the current owner of four of the Senkaku Islands, called a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo last Friday, urging restraint on the part of Japan, the People's Republic of China and Taiwan so that a war may be prevented.

The Kurihara family owns four of the Senkakus. Koga Tatsushiro(古賀辰四郎)leased the four islets from the Japanese government after the kingdom of the Ryukyus was annexed by Meiji Japan and made the prefecture of Okinawa. Forty years ago, the heirless Koga sold the lease of Uotsuri-jima (魚釣島), Kita-Kojima (北小島), Minami-Kojima (南小島) and Kuba-jima (久場島) to his friend Kurihara, the father of Hiroyuki, Kunioki (國起) and Kazuko (和子). At present, the first three islets are leased to Hiroyuki's elder brother, who is over 70 and heirless, while Kazuko owns the lease on Kuba-jima, which is managed by the Japanese Ministry Of Defense as a target range.

According to Hiroyuki Kurihara, many Japanese entrepreneurs have tried to purchase his elder brother's lease, but no deal has been made. Mr. Kurihara said, on behalf of his brother Kunioki who is aging and heirless, that he wishes to sell the islet trio to Governor Shintaro Ishihara of Tokyo rather than the Japanese government. The reason is simple, Kurihara said, because "Governor Ishihara has made the offer first." Months after Ishihara had made clear his intention to buy the three islets and started raising a fund for the purchase on behalf of his Tokyo metropolitan government, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda declared he would "nationalize" the three uninhabited islands. The lease will expire shortly, and Ishihara is trying to send a survey mission to the Senkakus. It's up to the granter of the lease rather than the leaseholder to permit access to the islets, Mr. Kurihara pointed out, adding: "The government may have to grant permission for a visit by the survey team."

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