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Japan underestimated China in territorial row: Ex-envoy Uichiro Niwa

Published on Jan 28, 2013 4:31 PM
 
Former Japanese ambassador to China, Uichiro Niwa gestures as he speaks to the press in Tokyo on Dec 20, 2012. Japan's government underestimated how China would react to its decision to buy islands at the centre of a bitter territorial dispute, Tokyo's former envoy to Beijing said today. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's government underestimated how China would react to its decision to buy islands at the centre of a bitter territorial dispute, Tokyo's former envoy to Beijing said today.

"I don't know why such a decision was made in a hurried manner and at such a time" Mr Uichiro Niwa told a news conference, speaking of then-Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's September announcement he was buying three of the Senkakus.

Mr Noda's government maintained the purchase was little more than administrative - transferring uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, known as the Diaoyus in China, from a private Japanese citizen to the state.

The administration made no secret of the fact that it was intended to outfox an attempt to buy the islands by the nationalistic then-mayor of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara, which it judged would be a worse provocation to Beijing.

 
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