The Japanese city of Ishigaki in Okinawa Prefecture said Thursday that it plans to change the name of the Diaoyu Islands, which Japan calls the Senkaku Islands. The mayor, Yoshitaka Nakayama, will submit a proposal to the city assembly for discussion at its regular session in December, in an attempt to change the islands' formal name from the current "Tonoshiro, Ishigaki City" to "Senkaku, Ishigaki City." This is meant to increase Japanese control of them.
The Japanese have an endless number of these little tricks and their foul play of nationalizing the Diaoyu Islands in 2012 was opposed by China. Since then, Chinese vessels have patrolled the waters around them, often within the 12-nautical-mile limit, but Japan invited this reaction. Japan seems not to have learned enough not to think about changing the islands' name.
Such provocation may catch the eye of the Japanese easily and have the mainstream media in awe, but it makes it hard for China to come up with countermeasures. As a result, the provocations increase the likelihood of confrontation between China and Japan.
This name changing happens often in neighboring countries, mostly driven by nationalism. For example, the South China Sea, which is recognized worldwide, was renamed by Vietnam as the East Sea, and later by the Philippines as the West Philippine Sea.
South Korea has done this too, changing the name of the Sea of Japan and Yellow Sea, to the East Sea and West Sea. In 2005, it changed the Chinese name of the capital city, Seoul, so that it appeared to have no connections with China. Now the Japanese want to follow suit and have come up with Senkaku, Ishigaki City, which is a petty move. If they are allowed to do this, the Chinese will be sick about it. However, if China strongly opposes this, it will look as if it is being manipulated by Japan. On the other hand, doing nothing can be seen as indulging Japan.
Right-wing Japanese have orchestrated this provocation. In spite of the fact that China's population is more than 10 times that of Japan, China is certainly outnumbered in the area of wicked ideas.
China does not need to struggle with Japan over every item. China is a major country with a thriving economy and politics, while Japan has grown increasingly narrow-minded. China has ambitions and a great deal of work to do while Japan pathetically spends a lot of time walking down a blind alley.
Japan is a reflection of how the outside world views China's rise in a negative way and some Japanese have gone against China not for national interests, but simply to vent off its anger. Still, China does not have to care too much about this mentality since it has been embedded in Japan's ideas of how to approach China.
Instead China has to outperform Japan in a magnanimous manner and not behave emotionally. National interests should always dominate our Japan policy.
The Diaoyu Islands are an integral part of Chinese territory. However, the Japanese fuss about them will be of no avail as China rises. While Japan appears to be waning in major-country competition, any move toward the Diaoyu Islands won't help prevent it from declining.