Japan announced on Friday that it will name five of the disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Early Friday the Associated Press reported, citing Japan’s maritime agency, that Japan will name 158 uninhabited islands in an effort to better assert its sovereignty over them. Among these will be five islands in the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which are also claimed by China and Taiwan.
“The names will be used for new maps. The islets are within Japan’s established exclusive economic zone and will not change maritime boundaries,” the Associated Press said in the report.
The report went on to say that Japan’s maritime agency intends to publish the names of all 158 inhabited islands on its website later today.
Japan’s naming of the disputed islands is almost certain to anger China and, to a lesser extent, Taiwan. Japan does not officially recognize that a dispute over ownership of the islands exists, and thus will reject all criticism from Beijing.
Ties between China and Japan have deteriorated sharply since Tokyo nationalized some of the islands in the fall of 2012. Since that time, China has significantly stepped up its maritime patrols around the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in an effort to weaken Japan’s claims of sovereignty over them. Tokyo’s decision to name some of the disputed islands is likely aimed at countering these efforts.
In many ways, Japan’s naming of the islands is similar to China’s printing of maps asserting its expansion claims of sovereignty over the East and South China Seas, as well as its land borders with India.