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The Sino-Japanese dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands is not single or simple as it itself may indicate. Instead, it is a multifaceted and complicated issue. The complexity of the dispute lies not only in its multiple and interrelated foci such as its ownership, its return, and the demarcation of Sino-Japanese maritime boundary, but also in its entanglement with other problems in bilateral relations, both China and Japan’s domestic politics, and their respective broad foreign relations as well. 

Since the disagreements between China and Japan over the islands are too complex to be reduced to a single cause and both sides prefer to attach great significance to their claims to the disputed islands due to their security, economic, and political implications, the claimants find great difficulties in coping with this issue. Although the dispute has not led to direct military conflict between the parties involved, neither side can afford to relax its vigilance. The governments have been at pains to downplay the issue, keep the dispute as low-key as possible, and prevent the trouble from deteriorating bilateral relations. But they are at the mercy of domestic and international political factors beyond their immediate control.”

— ZHONGQI PAN, “Sino-Japanese Dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands: The Pending Controversy from the Chinese Perspective

Following on below, this resource seeks to provide a collection of different analyses, theories, positions and various interpretations and approaches taken by the various engaged and affected parties on the Senkaku-Diaoyu Islands Dispute.

These sorts of issues complicated and multifaceted and wrapped up in historical tit-for-tats as they are, always make me think of Robert Fulghum’s poem in his book “ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN (a guide for Global Leadership)” which advocates that grownups and leaders would abide by the simple rules that we teach our kids in a sandbox or playground and resolve their differences in more mature ways without resorting to violence…to which I would add, try and stand in the other person’s shoes. An excerpt of his famous words follows:

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

These are the things I learned:
Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Source: “ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN” by Robert Fulghum . See his web site at

Resources and background readings on the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands Dispute:

For breaking news see this page.

Disputed islands

Nationalism stokes island disputes around Asia

Shilling for our side over the Senkakus Truth becomes the first casualty as Japan faces big trouble over little islands in the East China Sea has different points of view (Japan Times)

Japanese gov. position vs The Chinese gov. position

Japan and China: Barren Rocks, barren nationalism and Q&A: China islands row provides historical context.’s analysis on Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands issue has one of most detailed briefs online, and also mentions the political machinations on both sides as well as the  discovery of greater oil reserves than earlier thought as a possible reason for the escalation of tensions and claims.’s The China-Japan Clash Over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands  also has detailed background and motivations behind the regional rivalries over barren rocks.

HistoryToday’s Senkaku/Diaoyu: Islands of Conflict is a good brief commentary Chinese Sinocentric worldview and why it ignores generally accepted international law interpretations/practices. Sino-Japanese Disputes over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands: The Pending Controversy from the Chinese Perspective is an excellent paper on the Chinese stakes on the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands sovereignty issue

Outrage to a point The Economist blog

Dangerous Waters – By Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt
Why China’s dispute with Japan is more dangerous than you think. 09/17/201

The US’ on the US position: Rising tensions in the East China Sea | Avoiding escalation and Banyan: Too small an ocean; also Senkaku Islands Dispute

Foreign Policy magazine’s Trouble in the South China Sea – By Bonnie Glaser shows Chinese not willing to play fair nor honor their verbal agreements

The role of international law and importance of EEZ to Japan see Islands Apart, Make Law not WarThe Senkaku/Daioyu Islands Dispute (old 1996) and Lines of Latitude by Cohen, Van Dyke and Tkacik (NYU School of Law). The current Chinese political position appears to have shifted from the position taken in this paper Explaining Stability in the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands Dispute.

Maritime Territorial Disputes in East Asia: A Comparative Analysis of the South China Sea with the East China Sea (Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 2/2011: 165-193  ) This article systematically compares maritime territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas. It draws on the bargaining model of war and hegemonic stability theory to track the record of conflicts and shifts in the relative power balances of the claimants and calls for a differentiated methodological approach to devise strategies to mediate and resolve the disputes.


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