Senkaku Islands: The So-Called Video, and other Mysteries

An unnamed Japanese coast guard  crew member reportedly claims responsibility for leaking video footage about the Senkaku collisions that occured in September this year.

The coast guardsman may be arrested on suspicion of breaking the national public service act,

reckons the Global Times, a CCP mouthpiece, and covers the Chinese foreign ministry’s reaction in another article:

“I would like to reiterate that the Japanese patrol boats had disturbed, driven away, intercepted and surrounded the Chinese fishing boat, which led to the collision,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. “The so-called video cannot change the fact and cannot conceal the unlawfulness of the Japanese action.”

Your Beijing Bible: So-Called Video Changeth Nothing

So in short, the video not only changes nothing, but it isn’t even a video. But what then is it in reality?

There is no shortage of interpretations. Pictures are more powerful than words, at least in the mainstream media, and they are more likely to trigger public reactions than any number of legal documents. Tokyo could argue legally, concerning the Senkaku status, and would have a lot of valid points on its side. But the question about “Who rammed who” is much more attractive.

And therefore, the leakage appears to be the right choice in the current propaganda war, no matter if the decision was made by an individual coast guard serviceman, or by the Japanese authorities themselves. It originally seemed that Japan had caved in under Chinese pressure – to the alleged halt to rare earth shipments to Japan (which may still be in effect), and to what has come across to many of the global audience (including this blogger) as the taking of hostages.

The current stress test is revealing – that’s what makes it valuable. Beijing has been badly rammed by his own patriotic fishermen, or so spokesman Hong Lei‘s foot-in-mouth statement (if correctly quoted) would suggest.

Which leads me to two questions: given that the Japanese prosecutors have confirmed that the leaked video is identical with the footage they had been shown during their investigations, can we guess that the Japanese authorities wanted it to be leaked? There didn’t need to be a confirmation after all.

And did Beijing plan the incident to bring the Senkaku issue back to the agenda, exactly by having another of their fishing boats intrude into the Senkaku vicinity? M. J. Klein, a commenter on The View from Taiwan, suggests that

the Chinese vessel has a reinforced bow designed for ramming other vessels. otherwise a full-on collision would collapse the bow.

Hidetoshi Kaneko, a senior expert writer, quotes Chinese military-related websites that the Minjinyu 5179 – the Chinese trawler – had a carbon-steel-reinforced bow, and lists some more mysteries.


Why Japan claims the Senkaku Islands, Asahi Shimbun, Sept 23, 2010
The EP-3 Incident and what Really Happened, August 2008, 2010

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