|Description : Map showing China Japan disputed islands location.||Disclaimer|
The East China Sea archipelago, referred to as Senkaku Islands by Japan, as the Diaoyu by China Islands, has been at the heart of a territorial dispute for many years now. Most of these islands are uninhabited islands and are being administered by Japan. The People's Republic of China (PRC) also stakes its claims over these islands. Sovereignty over the East China Sea Islands is important as it accords the owner very lucrative oil and mineral mining and fishing rights in the surrounding waters. On September 11, 2012, reports came in that the Japanese government had bought three of these islands from a private owner sparking off the protests. Later, on September 14, the Chinese State Oceanic Administration dispatched six marine surveillance vessels into the waters around the islands.
Though the PCR has been successful in snuffing out the protests in front of the Japanese Embassy in Beijing and in other parts of the country, Japanese businesses in China have suffered major setbacks. The plants of Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Mazda in China shut shop these past few days and hundreds of Japanese business owners and restaurateurs were forced to remain shuttered. Incidences of protesters looting and razing Japanese factories have also been reported. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce issued a statement that worsening ties are likely to affect trade between the two countries. Currently, Japan is China's third largest trade partner following the EU and the US.
On Tuesday, September 12, the car of the US ambassador to China was surrounded and damaged by protestors. Though the US does not have an official stand with regard to the dispute, it may be compelled to support Japan, in accordance with the US Japan Security Treaty, if Japan takes to a military defence.