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Islands stolen by Japan

Publication Date : 12-09-2012


Japan has slammed the door on diplomacy by "nationalising" Chinese territory.

Yet, the country has no legal grounds for taking control of the Diaoyu Islands and, for that reason, simply cannot deprive China of its sovereignty over them.

It's high time that China resort to legal methods in these disputes. International jurisprudential evidence is irrefutable in its proof that China has sovereignty over the islands.

The Diaoyu Islands (known in Japan as Senkaku Islands) issue was settled after World War II. The United States has nonetheless managed to turn it into a complicated dispute.

The earliest historical records to show the islands are Chinese navigational documents dating to 1403. References to the Diaoyu Islands also occur in Chinese logs and maps from about the same time. For centuries the Diaoyu Islands were administered as part of Taiwan.

Japan took the Liu Chiu Islands, which Japan calls Okinawa, by force from China in 1874, when the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was at war with several countries. The Diaoyu Islands, though, remained under the administration of Taiwan. Following China's defeat in the Sino-Japanese War in 1894-95, the Qing government ceded Taiwan, including its subsidiary islands, to Japan.

That was reversed by the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations, which resulted in Taiwan being returned to China in 1945 at the end of World War II. The Japanese government accepted the terms of these documents, including one saying "that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa (as Taiwan was called before 1945), the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China".

Article 2 of the Treaty of Peace with Japan, which was signed in 1951 by Japan and the allied powers, states: "Japan renounced all right, title and claim to Formosa and the Paracels." Article 4 of a separate peace treaty signed in 1952 by Japan and the Republic of China declared that all agreements made between Japan and China before 1941 were null and void.

As stated above, it's perfectly logical to conclude that the Diaoyu Islands, being part of the Taiwan territories, have been returned to China.

So where do the claims to the contrary come from?

In part from an illegal treaty the United States and Japan signed in San Francisco in 1951 in the absence of China, one of the victors in the war. Article 3 of the treaty wrongly assigned the Diaoyu Islands and other islets to the Liu Chiu Islands, which was then under the US' control.

China has never recognised the San Francisco Treaty.

After 1972, when the US handed over the Diaoyu Islands, as well as the Liu Chiu Islands, to Japan under the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, Japan once again began to administer the islets. Even so, that agreement did not and could not recognise Japan's control over the islands. The country is now trying to use its "nationalisation" plan to pretend it has sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands.

Given the rampant rightist tendency seen in Japanese politics and the potential dangers Japan poses to its neighbours and the region at large, there is an imperative need to set the record straight.


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