Tue, Jan 29, 2013 - Page 8 News List

Diaoyutai issue fuels irrational behaviors

By Tsai Yi-chu 蔡亦竹

News about a possible war between China and Japan has been making the headlines for over a month now, although only in China and in Taiwan, where everyone seems to be the victim of Chinese brainwashing.

However, major Japanese media outlets are running only brief reports on the dispute over the Senkaku Islands — known as the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in Taiwan.

A few in-depth reports have focused on arrogant remarks made by some Chinese, such as “Japan will be defeated in 30 minutes” or that Japan should be attacked using nuclear bombs.

The story is basically treated as a topic for conversation around the water cooler.

The idea that China and Japan would go to war is a non-issue. Japanese are not idiots: How could there be no news reports on the topic in a country preparing to go to war?

This non-issue is not even worth discussing, and it is frightening to see the ignorance about the international situation being displayed by Taiwanese media outlets.

Not long ago, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) promoted hostility toward South Korea in an effort to shift people’s attention from its ineptness. Now some Chinese are attempting to manipulate anti-Japanese feelings.

On Jan. 16, the Central News Agency (CNA) quoted Japan News Network as saying that a high-ranking US official warned Japan not to fire warning shots at China, but the so-called “Japanese” news network was in fact a Chinese-language news Web site — a subcontractor of China’s Xinhua news agency.

More laughable still, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made an official statement two days later, after a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, saying that the US acknowledges that the Diaoyutais are under the administration of Japan and opposes “any unilateral actions that would seek to undermine Japanese administration,” adding that this position is based on the US-Japan Security Treaty.

Her remarks were a big slap in the Chinese-language media’s face. Still, it is worrisome that CNA acted like China’s puppet and cited news from such a source.

More recently, it was reported on Yahoo Taiwan’s news site that Japanese Vice Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso wanted the elderly to die early to relieve the government from the burden caused by their health care.

Such reports were incorrect. What he actually said was that if one day he is incapable of looking after himself, he would rather die early so as not to increase health care expenditures.

High government officials should of course be cautious, but the vice prime minister was expressing his personal preference, why would that mean that he thinks the nation’s elderly and terminally ill should follow?

Will criticizing Japan help Taiwan gain sovereignty over the Diaoyutais? Will it make Taiwanese feel that Japanese are nothing to be afraid of, and push Taiwan to enter into an anti-Japanese alliance with China?

Instead of worrying about another Sino-Japanese war, perhaps we should worry about Taiwan.

Tsai Yi-chu is a director of the Northern Taiwan Society.

Translated by Eddy Chang

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