More than 5,000 Japanese citizens have donated about $950,000 in only five days to help the authorities buy three of the Senkaku islands, which are at the centre of a territorial dispute with China.
The initiative originated from the rightwing Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, who said that “Tokyo is going to protect the Senkakus ” by buying the Uotsurijima, Kitakojima and Minamikojima islands from their Japanese owner.
A family member of Kunioki Kurihara, the island’s owner, recently said that one of the biggest problems to a sale is the difficulty of finding the right price of the three islands, as there is no reference value which can be taken into consideration, according to the Financial Times.
The initiative has its critics as well, with the Nikkei Weekly publication saying in a recent editorial that “Japan should play down the Senkaku dispute with China, as any efforts to raise the profile of the issue further will only make Beijing more vocal in its erroneous territorial claims”.
The islands, which China is calling the Diaoyu, have been at the centre of a diplomatic scandal between the two countries since September 2010 when a Chinese fishing captain was arrested by Japan.