Japan from the inside out

Ichigen koji (191)

Posted by ampontan on Monday, October 8, 2012

– A person who has something to say about everything

Kurihara Hiroyuki (65) was the owner of three of the Senkaku islets until he sold them to his older brother in 2002. The weekly Shukan Asahi interviewed him for their 12 October issue to ask about the circumstances of his family’s sale of the islets to the Japanese government.

Q: What do you think about the anti-Japan demonstrations in China and the cancellation of the events commemorating the 40th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China relations?

KH: I thought they might last a little longer, so the convergence of all the demonstrations was unexpected. The domestic backdrop in China is the discord caused by the gap between rich and poor and the anti-Japan education conducted by the government. If this escalates, the dissatisfaction will be directed at their own government. That’s a multi-ethnic state, so its breakup will come quickly. Regardless of their efforts to prevent it, that should happen in about 10 years.

Q: The negotiations for the sale of the islands to the Tokyo Metro District took a sudden turn. Why were they sold to the national government? Was the JPY 2.05 billion price the deciding factor?

KH: That wasn’t it at all. There was debate in the upper house from 6-7 September over a bill to promote the “appropriate management” of uninhabited islands in border areas. Article 16 states, “When the national government deems it proper and reasonable to acquire…the land of the islands in question, the land in question may be expropriated in accordance with the provisions of this law.” If the law passes, the government can buy the Senkakus regardless of the wishes of the Kurihara family. The price at that time would not be appropriate.

So, when it came to the last minute, my brother was intimidated by the government. Land expropriation is a sore subject for the Kurihara family. Our family was told before to leave our home in Omiya (now Saitama City). The price offered for the house and land was too low, so my father turned down the offer. We lost our house in 1961 through a subrogation by proxy. That bill was probably also the reason Gov. Ishihara toned down his comments. If the land were expropriated, Okinawa Prefecture would have jurisdiction…

…To tell you the truth, I’m relieved.

The possibility of expropriation by the Japanese government was the least of their worries. The Chinese have intimidated and harassed the family for 30 years, according to family friends. Representatives of the Chinese government persistently called on them with offers to buy the islands. Some of the representatives were gangsterish and threatening. One Chinese agent for a resort company tried to get them to jointly develop the islets as a resort. Another got so pushy, he put JPY 35 billion in cash on the table, and the family had to file a complaint with the police. During his childhood, Hiroyuki’s son was regularly followed home from primary school by men he didn’t know, and as an adult received a call threatening to disrupt his wedding ceremony. There have also been late night calls threatening harm if the islands weren’t sold to China. The remains of dead animals were sometimes tossed onto the family property.

The Kuriharas finally built a high wall around their property with sharp, pointed objects imbedded in the top, and installed surveillance cameras. The reason younger brother Hiroyuki has dealt with the media rather than his older brother, the owner, is that the older brother prefers not to be seen in public.

Said one family member, “We’ve seen a stream of strange and unsavory people over the past 30 years.”

No wonder they’re relieved.

3 Responses to “Ichigen koji (191)”

  1. yankdownunder said

    Even if a Chinese person/company bought the islands they would still be Japanese territory.

    All fishing and exploration rights would still belong to the Japanese government.

    I don’t know the relevant laws but I think this is correct.

    If the islands were such a problem why didn’t they just donate(or sell at cost) them to the government. Maybe past governments didn’t want to upset China but they could have said either you buy them or I’ll sell them to Chinese. Maybe not.
    They were friends with the family of the original owners and made certain promises. First, to keep them in their natural state, more or less, and not sell them to developers. They were not about to sell them to the Chinese, or any foreign interest, as a matter of several principles. They could have gotten a lot more money from oil exploration companies, but kept turning them down too. And you think the Chinese would be copacetic with letting them fish there if they had the islands?

    I don’t think so.

  2. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    My question is why these harrassments and threatnings have not been known to us to date. I have been lazy, or something is not right.

  3. yankdownunder said

    I don’t know property law. Individual land/beach owners also own fishing and resources rights in waters up to 12 miles?

    I thought that belonged to government but Japan(this situation) can be different.

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