Japan has apparently figured out a way to end its territorial dispute with China over some uninhabited islands in the East China Sea: buy them out from under China's nose. Though the Japanese government has not publicly confirmed the deal, the country's media today reports via unnamed sources that Japan plans to purchase three of the islands from the Japanese family who owns them. Price tag: $26.2 million. Though Japan controls the Senkaku (China and Taiwan, which also claims them, refer to them as Diaoyu), the land grab will likely wear on relations with China.
But security experts counter that the move is actually an attempt to prevent things from getting even worse, reports the Washington Post. It seems the Tokyo metropolitan government and its ultra-nationalist governor are in the midst of collecting funds to purchase the islands, which they would then open to Japanese fishing boats and, possibly, even Japan's Self-Defense Forces. And that could lead to big problems, considering Chinese boats tend to sail in the islands' fish-rich waters. The central government, however, intends to keep them development-free. The BBC reports China is, per a foreign ministry rep, "monitoring developments closely and will take necessary measures to defend its national territorial sovereignty." (Read more Senkaku Islands stories.)