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  1. Japan Main Page
  2. Japan Expands Its Empire
  3. Japan Tests Its Military Might
  4. Economic Recovery Is Followed by Deep Recession
  5. Succession of Prime Ministers Meet Only Fleeting Popularity
  6. Scandals Taint Leadership
  7. Tsunami Devastates Japan and Causes Nuclear Disaster
  8. Tension Increases with Asian Neighbors Over Islands
  9. Noda Wins Party Leadership Vote, but Faces Strong Opposition
  10. Shinzo Abe Becomes Prime Minister Again in Late 2012
  11. Ongoing Fukushima Leak Declared an Emergency
  12. Japan Lifts Decades Old Arms Ban
  13. China, South Korea, and Japan Hold First Foreign Minister Talks in Three Years
  14. Military Legislation Sparks Protests
Tension Increases with Asian Neighbors Over Islands

In Aug. 2012, Japan arrested 14 Chinese citizens after they arrived on an island claimed by both countries. The 14 prisoners included journalists and protesters. They traveled from Hong Kong on a boat to the uninhabited island, which is called the Senkaku by Japan. China, who also claims ownership of the island and calls it Diaoyu, urged Japan to release its citizens without pressing charges.

It was the first time in eight years that Chinese activists had been arrested on an island in the East China Sea, but it was just the latest incident in recent flare-ups between Japan and its Asian neighbors. Also in Aug. 2012, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak flew to a group of islands that are in dispute between Japan and South Korea. Japan officials called Lee's visit "unacceptable" and retaliated by removing its ambassador from Seoul. In July 2012, Japan temporarily removed its ambassador to China over the disputed East China Sea islands.

On Aug. 24, 2012, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on live television that Japan would appeal to the international community for support of its claims to the islands that have been a matter of separate disputes with China and South Korea. He stressed that Japan would approach matters in a calm way. "It doesn't serve any country's interest to whip up domestic opinion and needlessly escalate the situation," Noda said. His televised speech was partly a response to statements from Lee Myung-bak, the South Korean president, and the recent anti-Japanese protests in China.

In Sept. 2012, anti-Japanese demonstrations continued in more than 50 cities across China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Qingdao. On Oct. 11, 2012, according to the Japanese government, Luo Zhaohui, a Chinese diplomat, visited Tokyo in secret to discuss how to defuse the tensions between the two countries. Zhaohui, head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Asian Affairs Department, met with Shinsuke Sugiyama, director general of Japan's Asian and Oceanic Affairs Bureau. The two diplomats began preparations for a longer meeting between the two countries, which would take place at a later date.

Next: Noda Wins Party Leadership Vote, but Faces Strong Opposition
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