Questions Related to the Senkaku Islands
and Perspectives for Their Resolution

Akahata on September 22, 1996 carried an article entitled "Questions Related to the Senkaku Islands and Perspectives for Their Resolution," with a note on historical facts. The article and note are as follows:

In connection with enforcing the Law of the Sea, a dispute has recently arisen involving Japan, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan on the territorial rights over the Senkaku Islands. Now let us search for a way to solve the question, by looking at the history related to the territorial rights over these islands.

Historical process and territorial rights:
Japan's territorial rights over the Senkaku Islands legitimate, based on international law, and Japan's possession for over a century

The Senkaku Islands (Diaoyudao in Chinese name) have been known about since olden times both in Japan and China. The Senkaku Islands were integrated into Japan in January 1895, and are today part of Japan. No historical documents have been found which show, that in the period before their integration into Japan, they were in the possession of China or any other country. (see separate item)

Japan's integration in 1895 of the Senkaku Islands was made by the cabinet decision at the time. In 1895, ten years before this, Tatsushiro Koga, a Japanese, applied to the Japanese government for lease of these uninhabited islands. In the over 70 years from the time Japan's possession of the Senkaku Islands began in 1895 to the early 1970s, there were no objection raised from abroad to the Senkaku Islands' belonging to Japan. Also at this time Japan continues to have effective rule over these islands.

The 1895 integration of the Senkaku Islands by the Japanese government into Japan's territory was internationally the first act of territorial possession of these islands; which in international law is regarded as possession and effective rule based on occupation.

China's claim to territorial rights waged from 1970s
It was from the beginning of the 1970s that China and Taiwan began to claim territorial rights over the Senkaku Islands. As part of the background to this was a report on sea bed mineral research, published by ECAFE (United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East) in 1969, which pointed to the promising oil deposits existing around the Senkaku Islands.

In China's documents, there is no record showing that the Chinese people have ever inhabited the Senkaku Islands. Neither the Ming nor the Qing (Ching) Dynasty declared internationally their possession of the Senkaku Islands. In maps covering the whole of China issued up to the 1960s by the People's Republic of China (for example, a map issued by the Peking Map Publisher, 1966), there was no mention about the Senkaku Islands, neither were they included in the Taiwan province maps. According to the Chinese maps, the geographical position of the Senkaku Islands (between 123.4 degrees to 125 degrees east longitude) are outside China's "territorial waters."

It was in 1992 that China, in its Territorial Sea Law, added the Senkaku Islands to its territory.

As regards the grounds that the Senkaku Islands are their territory, both China and Taiwan insist that these islands have historically been China's inherent territory, and that Japan unjustifiably seized them by fully exploiting its victory in the first Sino-Japanese War.

Nothing to do with the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95)
But, the Senkaku Islands question has nothing to do with the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95. The Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty to conclude the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 decided to cede Taiwan and the Penghu Islands to Japan. This was Japan's territorial expansion, which can never be justified. But every historical document tells us that the Senkaku Islands question was dealt with separately from the Taiwan and Penghu Islands question. In the negotiations on the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty, the question of title to the Senkaku Islands was not taken up.

Resulting from Japan's defeat in 1945, all the territory Japan had unjustifiably taken from China, including Taiwan and the Penghu Islands were returned to China in accordance with the Cairo Proclamation and the Potsdam Declaration. But the Senkaku Islands were not included in this settlement at that time because the Chinese side raised no claim for the Senkaku Islands.

Therefore, in the light of historical fact, Japan's title to the Senkaku Islands is clear.

Tasks of Japanese Diplomacy:
Japan's territorial rights over the Senkaku Islands should be consolidated through negotiation

The Japanese Communist Party in March 1972 published "the JCP view on the Senkaku Islands question," in which it made clear that the Senkaku Islands are part of Japanese territory. At that time Taiwan and China had suddenly begun dealing with the question of title to the Senkaku Islands. The Okinawa Legislature (the incumbent prefectural assembly) adopted a resolution that it is a clear fact that "the Senkaku Islands are Japanese territory and there is no room for dispute over Japan's territorial right to the islands." The JCP's view, issued soon after this resolution, was based on its study of historical developments in connection with the islands and various aspects of relevant international law, and it concluded that Japan had territorial rights over the Senkaku Islands.

In addition, in all the subsequent new historical material, we find no problem requiring the JCP to change the view as stated in 1972.

Japanese diplomacy is required to base its approach on getting a peaceful solution to this problem as its basic line and to make further efforts through persistent negotiations to consolidate Japan's territorial rights over the Senkaku Islands.

China's frequent incursions into Japan's territorial waters by its ocean research ships which carry out research in the sea around the Senkaku Islands, cannot be overlooked. The Japanese government is required to take resolute attitude on this question towards the Chinese government.

Japanese gov't providing U.S. forces with part of the Senkaku Islands as firing site

Since the total occupation of Okinawa by the U.S., the Senkaku Islands have been used by the U.S. forces for military purposes. Even at present, the Japanese government, running counter to the desires of the Okinawa people for withdrawal of U.S. bases, has provided the U.S. with two islands, Sekibi-sho and Kobi-sho of the Senkaku Islands as firing ranges. The U.S. Air Force and Navy have made use of them for bombing and other exercises. This also is a serious matter which cannot be approved for the future of the Senkaku Islands.

All Historical Documents Demonstrate Japan's Possession of the Senkaku Islands

The Senkaku Islands have been described in documents of both Japan and China because the Islands have since early times been one of the markers on the Ryukyu (Okinawa) to Fuzhou (China) sea route. Therefore, notes on the Senkaku Islands are found in both Japanese and Chinese documents. For example, in Chinese documents, there are "Notes on an expedition to Ryukyu" (1534), compiled by Chen Kan, "cefengshi" (the emperor's feudal messengers) of the Ming Dynasty, and other records by other "cefengshi" of the same dynasty, and in Japanese documents "Chuzan Seikan (records of Ryukyu Dynasty)" (1650), compiled by Choushu Haneji (Shou Jouken), a regency of the 27th Ryukyu king. But, neither of them refer to who the territory of the Senkaku Islands belonged to.

Japan's Meiji government in April 1879 carried through the so-called "Ryukyu disposal," by which the whole of Okinawa was incorporated into Japan, and the Okinawa Prefecture was set up.

During the period from 1879 to the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, it was none other than the jurisdiction over Okinawa which had become a matter of disputes between Japan and the Qing Dynasty. The Ryukyu Dynasty had in some ways been both subordinate to the Qing Dynasty and the Shimazu feudal clan (Kyushu), but Ryukyu's tribute to the Qing Dynasty was severed by the Meiji government's "Ryukyu disposal." In May 1879, the Qing government protested about the "Ryukyu disposal."

Diplomatic negotiations about the jurisdiction over Okinawa continued from 1880, but the problem remained unsettled because of the circumstances of the Qing side, and with the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1894, it ceased to be a problem. (end)

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