Senkaku Dispute and Asia Super Grid

Japan Times reports about escalating demonstrations in China against the recent move of the Japanese government to buy the Senkaku islands. They are the object of a long standing dispute involving Japan, China, Taiwan, and the United States (who would be obliged under U.S. Japan Security Treaty to help Japan fight off a military move by China).

These developments are not welcome. They threaten peace in East Asia. I hope things don’t get out of control.

From the point of view of the Asia Super Grid project, there are two possible points of view.

One has been expressed by Mark Lynas and Nobuo Ikeda: With relations strained between Japan and China, it is a bad idea to depend on China for energy.

I disagree. It is exactly the other way round.

Having stronger economic relations, starting out with cooperation over energy, can only help keeping peace. The EU has been remarkably successful in keeping peace on the European continent for over 60 years.

And as long as Japan has not reached 100 percent domestic renewable energy production, it will always depend strongly on energy imports. Even if China shuts down electricity exports to Japan over some dispute or other, Japan would only be back to where it was in the first place, without building the Asia Super Grid.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

3 thoughts on “Senkaku Dispute and Asia Super Grid

  1. The situation between Japan and China seems to me much more similar to the one between Russia and Ukraine. By now China is going as far as threatening Japan with economic sanctions, which shows how much the situation is more similar to the one with a hostile not very democratic neighbor who will not hesitate to use any means he has as retaliation, than between the similarly democratic countries after world war two that foremost wanted never again such a war to happen one again. And had the experience of world war I to show them how economically humiliating their neighbor could lead to that.


  2. I don’t know much about these questions and have commented only on the relation to the “Asia Super Grid”.

    But I think this is complicated by the fact that these islands are closest to Taiwan, which asserts them as well, and mainland China and Taiwan have a lot of unresolved issues. That in turn makes it more difficult to negotiate a solution.

    It is also highly relevant that the United States guarantees the integrity of these islands in the U.S. Japan Security Treaty, a fact that should dampen any Chinese ambitions for a military move.

    While I’m at it, I am going to post an idea for how to negotiate a compromise. That may not be worth anything, but I personally like it enough to mention it on the blog.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: