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Japan and US need to up their game in the Senkakus

When the People’s Republic of China wants something that belongs to someone else, it is persistent and pushes to get what it wants. And it’s willing to use force if necessary. Japan knows the feeling, when it comes to its Senkaku Islands at the southern end of the Ryukyu chain. They are closer to Shanghai than to Tokyo. The PRC claims the islands as its own – referring to them as the Diaoyu Islands.

Given the PRC’s increasingly violent behavior as it seeks to control Philippine maritime territory, it is worth taking stock of the Senkaku situation.

Swarming and ‘osmosis’

China fully intends to take the Senkakus – when the time is right. For the last 15 years, the Chinese have been gradually expanding their naval presence in terms of frequency, location and numbers and types of ships and boats involved.

We’ve seen China Coast Guard, People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia, “regular” fishing vessels and other Chinese government agency ships, with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN, or Chinese Navy) lurking close by. Even Chinese aircraft have intruded into Japanese airspace around the Senkakus.

It will be more things in more places and more often – and more frequently in Japan’s territorial waters. In other words, within 12 miles of the Senkaku Islands. At some point Japan will find it simply doesn’t have the ships and resources to contain Chinese incursions.

China will have taken the Senkakus by “osmosis” rather than by storm.

Several times over the past decade the Chinese have “flooded the zone” with fishing boats. To include a couple hundred or more boats around the Senkakus – backed up by China Coast Guard ships. And with the Chinese Navy over the horizon.

Beijing was demonstrating that whenever it wants it can