Their actions could precipitate an armed response by either side. First, Japan and China are already finding it difficult to read each other's actions. policymakers have sought to lessen tensions but have also taken steps to clarify the U. Early this year, as military interactions raised the potential for conflict, Clinton restated the U. position that it would not accept any unilateral attempt to wrest control of the islands. assurances could lead Tokyo to overestimate Washington's response and to act in a manner that would increase the chance for confrontation. Although this seems highly unlikely today, either party could take military action to assert sovereignty over the disputed islands.Political miscalculation of either country's intent or resolve, as well as miscalculation of the U. Past Japanese government leasing of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands effectively kept nationalist activists—Japanese as well as Chinese and Taiwanese—at bay. Still, Beijing could miscalculate Washington's commitment to defend Japan and/or seek to test that commitment. To date, however, Tokyo has tended to err on the side of caution in planning and exercises with U. forces, and it is unlikely Japan would act without evidence of U. Rising domestic pressures or an unexpected opportunity for a fait accompli could lead to a decision by either government to establish military control over the territory.Tensions have risen to dangerous levels between Japan and China over a small group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, called the Senkaku by the Japanese and the Diaoyu by the Chinese.These islands were once controlled by the United States as part of its post–World War II occupation of Japan and only returned to Japanese administrative control with the reversion of Okinawa in 1971.In mid-2012, however, rising nationalist sentiments during leadership transitions inflamed the dispute. Although it seems that neither Tokyo nor Beijing wants to use force to pursue its interests in the territorial dispute, it is possible that either government could choose to do so in the future. forces can also assist Japanese agencies in a maritime emergency, should an incident involving the Japanese and Chinese militaries occur.
Political miscalculation in Tokyo or Beijing, or unintended military interactions in and around the disputed islands, could escalate further, leading to an armed clash between Asia's two largest powers.As Washington prepared to return these islands to Japan, the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan contested Japan's sovereignty.Two years earlier, a United Nations (UN) geological survey of the East China Sea revealed the potential of significant hydrocarbon resources.Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) reported that a Chinese frigate locked its firing radar on the Japanese destroyer Chinese authorities instigated an investigation into the incident in response to Japan's protest, leading to speculation that Beijing was unaware of the ship captain's actions.Although China's Ministry of Defense later denied that the incident took place, it did acknowledge the danger such an act posed.