The tension between Japan and China has been increasing over the years, concerning island territory and the access that these islands have to oil and gas reserves. The Senkaku (Japan) and Diouyi (China) islands both have perimeters of 7 kilometers that overlap one another within the East and South China Sea. In the midst of this overlap, lies the approximate area of the Chunxiao gas field. The strength of historical disputes is so unfortunate in this case as Japan and China in negotiations is an economic and industrial force to be reckoned with. Journalists stress a need for “a bilateral trade between the two Asian powers estimated at some $300 billion”. This puts into perspective the worth of the natural resources in this particular area and equally magnifies the friction between China and Japan who both want to claim it themselves.
Japan claims that China never had any sovereignty over the islands, Japan became sovereign in 1985 and China only tried to change that when natural resources entered the equation. It gets even more complicated with the fact that Taiwan too, claims the islands and they resources they possess. Whilst China criticizes Japan for supposedly taking land that belonged to them in centuries old, the US support Japan having access to energy in her own right. The US Energy Information Association stated that “Japan is the world’s largest liquefied natural gas importer, second largest coal importer, and third largest net oil importer”. Here, it could be inferred that China feels threatened by Japan’s rich resources and wants to claim them as her own, instead of to look at they strengths of one another’s resources and create some solid agreements that can better both countries and smooth out underlying tension.
However after the recent earthquake in Fukushima, Japan lost most of her oil resources, which is why access to the oil in the East China Sea is so important. Especially if China is not willing to negotiate. Whilst highly dependent on the Middle East and Russia for oil, using this newly discovered oil within her territory would reduce importation costs. Whilst oil access and borders with China are not Japan’s only worries, it’s looking like future conflicts, perhaps involving combat, may arise in the near future.