Like watching children playing in a sandbox until one child instigates violence

It’s like watching children playing in a sand box throwing sand at each other until one of the children becomes upset and ups the confrontation to violence. That’s the way it’s been going on between Japan and China in their island dispute. Now Japan increases the tension by challenging Taiwan’s fishing around a small “bedroom” size island. One of these confrontations quite possibly could lead to an incident where one of the contestants to these territorial waters, either it be Japan, China or Taiwan, end up opening fire on each other. This is especially true considering Japan dispatched a record number of fighter interceptors to the region in 2015.

Source: ABC News

Okinotori: Japan, Taiwan Quarrel Over ‘Bedroom-Sized’ Outcropping

by Eric Baculinao

May 2, 2016

BEIJING — Taiwan has sent two coastal patrol boats to challenge ally Japan’s claim to a “bedroom-sized” outcropping in a simmering dispute over fishing rights.

Japan detained the captain and nine crew members of a 50-ton Taiwanese boat last week but released them after a $54,400 security deposit was paid with help from Taipei’s government, according to local media reports.

Tokyo has defended its action claiming the Taiwanese boat was within the 200-mile economic zone off Japan-administered Okinotori atoll, a rocky outcropping in the Pacific Ocean around 1,075 miles south of Tokyo and 975 miles east of Taipei.

A map showing the location of Okinotori. Google Maps

An international maritime treaty grants such an economic zone to “islands” while “rocks” are limited to a 12-mile territorial sea. The distinction between “rocks” and “islands” is also at the heart of the South China Sea disputes pitting China against its U.S.-backed maritime neighbors.

“Japan has no right to ban our fishing boats from the area,” Taiwan’s coast guard administration was quoted as saying in an official statement. “The government will resolutely defend the rights and freedom of our fishermen in international waters.”

Taiwan summoned a Japanese representative Friday to protest the vessel’s seizure.

However, some experts note that Japan’s claim is anchored on a couple of uninhabitable rocks within the atoll that is reportedly around 100 square feet in combined area — or no bigger than a bedroom — at high tide. Tokyo’s approach essentially mirrors Beijing’s expansive claims to the South China Sea.

“The irony is that Japan is doing exactly what it is accusing China of doing in the South China Sea,” former Taiwan deputy defense minister Chong-Ping Lin told NBC News. Lin now teaches international and strategic studies at Taiwan’s Tamkang University.