Tournant nationaliste au Japon

TOKYO – Le Japon a fait récemment la une des médias en raison de son conflit avec la Chine au sujet d'un groupe d'îlots isolés de 6 km2  mer de Chine orientale, appelés Senkaku par le Japon et Diaoyu par la Chine. La rivalité des deux pays à ce sujet remonte au 19° siècle, mais la récente crise qui a entraîné de nombreuses manifestations anti-japonaises en Chine a éclaté en septembre, lorsque le gouvernement japonais a acheté ces trois minuscules îlots à leur propriétaire privé japonais.

Le Premier ministre japonais Yoshihiko Noda a déclaré qu'il a décidé cet achat pour empêcher le maire de Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, de les acheter sur des fonds municipaux. Ishihara - qui a démissionné depuis pour créer un nouveau parti politique - est bien connu pour ses provocations nationalistes et Noda craignait qu'il ne tente d'occuper ces îlots ou de les utiliser pour provoquer la Chine et gagner ainsi le soutien de l'opinion publique. Mais les dirigeants chinois ne croient pas à cette explication et interprètent l'achat comme la preuve que le Japon veut remettre en question le statu quo.

En mai 1972, lorsque les USA ont rendu la préfecture d'Okinawa au Japon, ce transfert incluait les îlots Senkaku que les Américains administraient depuis Okinawa. Quelques mois plus tard, lorsque le Japon et la Chine normalisent leurs relations de l'après-guerre, le Premier ministre japonais Kakuei Tanaka demande au Premier ministre chinois Zhou Enlai quelles sont ses intentions en ce qui concerne les îles Senkaku. Ce dernier lui répond que plutôt que de laisser ce désaccord retarder la normalisation, il est préférable de laisser la responsabilité de résoudre le problème aux générations futures.

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