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Thursday, May 3, 2012

¥76 million donated to Ishihara's islets fund


Staff writer

In the five days since setting up a bank account for the purpose last Friday, 5,428 people and organizations donated ¥76 million to help the Tokyo Metropolitan Government purchase three of the five Senkaku islets, which are under Okinawa jurisdiction but also claimed by China and Taiwan, the metro government said Wednesday.

Last month, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara expressed his intention for the metro government to purchase the islets from the title holder, a Saitama Prefecture resident, based on the governor's self-professed sense of patriotism and apparent dissatisfaction with the central government's "soft" diplomatic stance toward China.

Ishihara has said he wants to complete the purchase, for an undisclosed amount, as early as next April.

Before that day, however, the governor must convince lawmakers and citizens that buying islands thousands of kilometers away is justified.

If the price exceeds ¥200 million and the size of the land is greater than 20,000 sq. meters, the metropolitan assembly must approve the purchase, metro official Hirotaka Furuse said. The three islets combined are 4.49 sq. km., while the smallest of the five alone is 60,000 sq. meters.

Also, an auditing panel must approve purchases of real estate, airplanes, ships and other properties exceeding ¥40 million, Furuse said.

The uninhabited Senkaku islets are administered by the Okinawa city of Ishigaki.

The central government prohibits anyone from landing on the islets, which are patrolled by the coast guard 24 hours a day.

Those interested in making a donation to the purchase fund can send money to Mizuho Bank, Tokyo Tocho Shucchojo (Metropolitan Government branch), "futsu," 1053860. The name of the account is Tokyoto Senkaku Shoto Kifukin (Tokyo Senkaku Islands Donation).

Separately Wednesday morning, two Chinese fisheries patrol boats briefly entered the so-called contiguous zone of the Senkaku Islands, 30 km to 38 km off Uotsuri Island. It is the first time Chinese ships have entered the zone since Ishihara's announcement.

Japan's contiguous zone extends up to 44 km of maritime territory. While not Japanese territory, the country has the right to warn foreign ships in the zone not to come near its territory, a Japan Coast Guard spokeswoman said.



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