According to this Sankei report, the Japanese Government is gaining sole position of the Senkaku Islands because it saw the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s 2.03 billion yen bid and raised it by 20 million yen. So it was always about the money. Governor Ishihara must have realized then that the owner was playing the bidders against each other and decided to fold.
I think that Ishihara is losing his game though. He initially expressed his intent to give the 1.46 billion yen in donations, which he’d collected for the cause, to the national government to help pay for the islands. He did pull back in the face of backlash from the donors, who did not appreciate the national government’s obvious intention to put those islands into permanent deep freeze. But he should have anticipated that reponse. More important, the government’s objective was totally anathema to his and flowed directly from the kind of thinking that prompted Ishihara’s initiative in the first place. If anyone is still looking for Ishihara to lead that bunch of septuagenarians into a new era of Japanese politics, he should stop right now. He’s lost his mojo.