Lord David Howell, speaking exclusively to us says Japan should act the statesman over the Senkaku islands’ dispute with China.
The islands, until recently forgotten and uninhabited, lie in the East China Sea and their sovereignty is also disputed by Taiwan.
Senkaku, or as the Chinese call them Diaoyu,are a group of five islands and three reefs controlled by Japan lying to the south of Okinawa and north of Taiwan.
The discovery of oil and gas reignited old rivalries leading to China deploying warships to the area in September 2012 and anti Japanese riots taking place on the mainland.
In the 1930’s Japan invaded China committing many atrocities. “In Nanking the Japanese behaviour was so unbelievably disgusting,it was almost as bad as the Holocaust and gas chambers albeit not on such a massive scale. ” Said Lord Howell, chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee from 1987-97.
“These repulsive, barbaric things will never be forgiven.” He added. “So the Chinese allow anti-Japanese feeling to burst out from time to time. But they have close economic ties so need each other.”
Two thirds of all Japan’s exports go to China, which in turn needs Japanese technological knowhow. Even though China has made staggering advances and in many areas is ahead of the West, however they still lag behind their old enemy. Japanese railways are the fastest and most efficient in the world, however they refused to share the knowledge with China fearing it would be used to make rockets. China after pressing ahead alone suffered the recent terrible train crash.
Lord Howell, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office between 2010 and the recent reshuffle, believes Japan should tactfully give in.
“They should take the standpoint they never really wanted the islands in the first place and only acquired them as a result of complicated treaties. If the Taiwanese or Chinese want these islands placed under international sovereignty then so be it. Take them away.”
“This would be on immense benefit to the standing of Japan in the world as a democratic peace loving nation, and set back to China, which claims to be a responsible nation, showing them as a bunch of rioting, violent, demanding thugs. It would do a lot of good to Japan’s reputation and harm to China’s.
“We have yet to see if they take my advice, but that is what I told them.” He smiled.