Cannon Dispute by Matthew Harper
In the past week, the disagreement over who should control several small islands between the Japanese and Chinese Governments hasn’t slowed. In fact, it’s only heated up. Or maybe it’s cooled down as, in the latest twist, the Japanese Coast Guard turned its water cannons on a fleet of boats from Taiwan, several of which then returned fire… or, water, that is.
According to Reuters, around 50 total Taiwanese ships, mostly made up of fishing boats but also including several Taiwanese Coast Guard vessels, were fired upon by the Japanese Coast Guard with water cannons in an effort to turn the Taiwanese boats back towards their home waters. China and Japan have actually had meetings to calm the dispute over the islands, but now Taiwan is also making a claim for them, making a big, new splash in this controversy.
Japan purchased the islands in the East China Sea from a private owner two weeks ago, but China has claimed they rightfully belonged to their nation the entire time, and Taiwan says that they shared fishing rights around the island with the Chinese. It’s a slippery situation, and this latest incident, with large government ships opening fire on each other, water cannons only or not, is a sign that things may get much more serious in the days to come. In fact, China sent out several vessels to monitor the situation, meaning that all three arguing nations were involved in the kerfuffle.
The Taiwanese ships had a chance to turn back before having the Japanese water cannons spraying them down, but they ignored the warnings and kept their course. In response, the Taiwanese Coast Guard ships themselves opened fire with water cannons on the Japanese ships. Think of a backyard water gun fight, only much less fun and with big, big stakes. Despite all of the commotion, no one was injured, according to UK paper The Telegraph. Japan then lodged a complaint about the incident with the Taiwanese government, saying that there was no need for this to happen and that the Taiwanese ships should have heeded the warnings they were given.
There is good news in this sea of argument, though, as most experts on the situation don’t expect any serious military action from any of the involved sides. Reuters claims that Japan and China both want the whole dispute solved as soon as possible, as it has already been causing riots in the streets of China. The Japanese Prime Minister continues to stand his ground in all of these debates, though, most likely because his government’s elections are coming up and he doesn’t want to appear weak. All three nations, luckily, seem to want to work out this row before things get any uglier.