TAIPEI (The China Post) — The Ishigaki City Council approved a bill on Monday that changes the status of the Diaoyutai Islands claimed by Japan, Taiwan and China, in a move that threatens to inflame tensions in the region.
The city authorities under Japan’s Okinawa prefecture approved the legislation that changes the administrative status of the uninhabited island group with the aim of improving “the efficiency of administrative procedures.”
The islands, also known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyus in China, have been administered by Japan since 1972, but Taipei, Tokyo and Beijing claim the group for various historical reasons.
China warned before Monday’s vote against any change in the status quo over the islands, stressing that the “Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands are China’s inherent territories,” a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday said.
“We ask Japan to abide by the spirit of the four-principle consensus, avoid creating new incidents on the Diaoyu Islands issue, and take practical actions to maintain the stability of the East China Sea situation.”
One of those four principles was that Japan acknowledges that sovereignty over the islands was in dispute. But the bill passed Monday in Ishigaki brushed off any concerns of how the move might be perceived in Beijing.
“The approval of this case did not take into consideration the influence of other countries, but was considered to improve the efficiency of administrative procedures,” the council said.
Earlier, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported the bill “asserts the islands are part of Japanese territory.”