Tensions grow between China and Japan over islands

This picture taken on August 19, 2012 shows thousands of Chinese protesters marching in a demonstration in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan province against Japan's claim of the Diaoyu islands, as they are known in Chinese, or Senkaku islands in Japanese.

Stacey Vanek Smith: Also in China over the weekend, activists smashed shop windows and overturned cars in a wave of anti-Japanese protests. The protests center around a couple of uninhabited, rocky islands in the East China Sea.

To explain what's behind this we're joined by the BBC's Markia Oi in Tokyo. Good morning, Marika.

Mariko Oi: Good morning.

Smith: Well, tell me a little bit more about these islands that are in dispute right now.

Oi: Well, they are remote and uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. China says these islands have always belonged to China since ancient times. Japan says those islands were returned to Japan after the Second World War after a treaty, but China disputes that. I guess another reason I should mention is that those islands sit on huge potential natural gas and oil reserves.

Smith: Right, right I have heard there are just a lot of natural resources under these islands.

Oi: There’s been a lot of talk about it. Japan’s claim is that China only made a fuss about the sovereignty of these islands, in the 1970’s when they started realizing there might be all these natural resources. But I must say that, when you speak with people on the street it’s really more about people’s feelings towards each other especially coming from the bitter relationship that the two countries had during the Second World War.

Smith: Is there any idea how this situation might be resolved?

Oi: I think both the Japanese government and the Chinese government might want to know the answer to that. We’ve seen very violent protest in China, yesterday to today, reacting to the Japanese activists landing on the island. In fact, the government of Tokyo, the controversial Tokyo Mayor Shintaro Ishihara, said a few months ago, "Why don’t we just buy those islands from this Japanese national?" He has since been collecting donations from the Japanese public, their just individuals who donated small amounts of money from their own salaries or pocket money because they feel so passionately, that these islands should belonging to Japan.

Smith: The BBC’s Mariko Oi in Tokyo, Mariko thank you.

Oi: Thank you.

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