Senkaku Islands dispute
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The Senkaku Islands dispute concerns a territorial dispute over a group of uninhabited islands known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and as the Diaoyu (in China) or Tiaoyutai Islands (in Taiwan). Aside from a 1945 to 1972 period of administration by the United States, the archipelago has been controlled by Japan since 1895. The People's Republic of China (PRC) disputed the proposed US handover of authority to Japan in 1971 and has asserted its claims to the islands since that time. The Republic of China (Taiwan) also claims the islands. The territory is close to key shipping lanes, rich fishing grounds, and there may be oil reserves in the area.
Japan argues that it surveyed the islands in the late 19th century and found them to be Terra nullius (Latin: land belonging to no one); subsequently China acquiesced to Japanese sovereignty until the 1970s. The PRC and the ROC argue that documentary evidence prior to the First Sino-Japanese War indicates Chinese possession and that the territory is accordingly a Japanese seizure that should be returned as the rest of Imperial Japan's conquests were returned in 1945.
Although the United States does not have an official position on the merits of the competing sovereignty claims, the islands are included within the U.S. Japan Security Treaty meaning that a defense of the islands by Japan may compel support from the United States military.
In September 2012, the Japanese government purchased the remaining three of the disputed islands that it did not already own from their private owner, prompting large-scale protests in China.
[hide] 1 Islands
2 Fishing rights
3 Territorial dispute 3.1 Beginnings
3.2 Chinese position
3.3 Japanese position
4 Alternative approaches
5 Disputes about the causes
6 Historical development 6.1 2008
6.4 2012 6.4.1 Chinese anti-Japanese protests
9 External links
Main article: Senkaku Islands geography
The Senkaku Islands are located in the East China Sea between Japan, the People's Republic of China, and the Republic of China. The archipelago contains five uninhabited islands and three barren rocks, ranging in size from 800 m2 to 4.32 km2.
The issue of sovereignty has been carefully circumvented in bilateral fishing agreements. In the 1997 fishing agreement, the Senkaku Islands were officially excluded from China's exclusive economic zone, but in a letter of intent Japan explained that Japan would not prevent Chinese boats from fishing there. Some Chinese sources have subsequently argued that this letter constitutes a waiver of Japan's claim to exclusive fishing rights.
Following the Meiji Restoration, the Meiji Japanese government formally annexed what was known as the Ryukyu Kingdom as Okinawa Prefecture in 1879. The Senkaku Islands, which lay between the Ryukyu Kingdom and the Qing empire, became the Sino-Japanese boundary for the first time.
In 1885, the Japanese Governor of Okinawa Prefecture, Nishimura Sutezo, petitioned the Meiji government, asking that it take formal control of the islands. However, Inoue Kaoru, the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, commented that the islands lay near to the border area with the Qing empire and that they had been given Chinese names. He also cited an article in a Chinese newspaper that had previously claimed that Japan was occupying islands off China's coast. Inoue was concerned that if Japan proceeded to erect a landmark stating its claim to the islands, it would make the Qing empire suspicious. Following Inoue's advice, Yamagata Aritomo, the Minister of the Interior, turned down the request to incorporate the islands, insisting that this matter should not be "revealed to the news media".
On 14 January 1895, during the First Sino-Japanese War, Japan incorporated the islands under the administration of Okinawa, stating that it had conducted surveys since 1884 and that the islands were terra nullius, with there being no evidence to suggest that they had been under the Qing empire's control.
After China lost the war, both countries signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki in April 1895 that stipulated, among other things, that China would cede to Japan "the island of Formosa together with all islands appertaining or belonging to said island of Formosa (Taiwan)".
The treaty, however, was nullified after Japan lost the Second World War in 1945 by the Treaty of San Francisco, which was signed between Japan and part of the Allied Powers in 1951. The document nullifies prior treaties and lays down the framework for Japan's current status of retaining a military that is purely defensive in nature.
There is a disagreement between the Japanese, PRC and ROC governments as to whether the islands are implied to be part of the "islands appertaining or belonging to said island of Formosa" in the Treaty of Shimonoseki. China and Taiwan both dispute the Japanese claim by citing Yamagata Aritomo's reasons and decisions to turn down the request to incorporate the islands in 1885. Both PRC and ROC asserted sovereignty over the islands.
On May 15, 1972, the United States ended its occupation of Okinawa and the Ryukyu Island chain, which included the Senkaku Islands.
A 1785 Japanese map, the Sangoku Tsūran Zusetsu (三国通覧図説) by Hayashi Shihei adopted the Chinese kanji (釣魚臺 Diaoyutai) to annotate the Senkaku Islands, which were painted in the same color as China. The primary text itself can be found here.
Although Chinese authorities did not assert claims to the islands while they were under US administration, formal claims were announced in 1971 when the US was preparing to end its occupation. While Japan argues that a 1968 survey finding possible oil reserves in the area explains the emergence of Chinese claims, the Chinese argue that the sovereignty dispute is a legacy of Japanese imperialism and China's failure to secure the territory's prompt return following Japan's military defeat in 1945 was due to the complexities of the Chinese Civil War. The two civil war combatants, the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang (KMT), formed the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) respectively, and the communists eventually forced the ROC off the mainland in 1949. Both the PRC and ROC currently claim sovereignty based on arguments that include the following points:
1.Discovery and early recording in maps and travelogues
2.The islands were China's frontier off-shore defence against wokou (Japanese pirates) during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911). A Chinese map of Asia, as well as a map compiled by a Japanese cartographer in the 18th century, shows the islands as a part of China.
3.Japan took control of the islands during the First Sino-Japanese War in 1894-1895, to whom they were formally ceded by the Treaty of Shimonoseki. A letter of the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1885, warning against annexing the islands due to anxiety about China's response, shows that Japan knew the islands were not terra nullius.
4.The Potsdam Declaration stated that "Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine", and "we" referred to the victors of the Second World War who met at Potsdam, the USA, the UK and the Republic of China. Japan accepted the terms of the Declaration when it surrendered.
5.China formally protested the 1971 US transfer of control to Japan
According to Chinese claims, the islands, known to China at least since 1372, had been repeatedly referred to as part of Chinese territory since 1534, and later controlled by the Qing Dynasty along with Taiwan. The earliest written record of Diaoyutai dates back to 1403 in a Chinese book Voyage with the Tail Wind (zh:順風相送), which recorded the names of the islands that voyagers had passed on a trip from Fujian to the Ryukyu Kingdom.