Japan version on Senkaku Islands
Posted on 6 months ago
I welcome any open and fair discussion on any issues including the Senkaku Islands of Japan. But, it was very disappointing to see the article, “The Sino-Japanese row over disputed Islands” of November 7 2012 by Dr. Ahmad Rashid Malik, as it lacked basic understanding of the historical facts and international law.
Japan acquired the Senkaku Islands peacefully and lawfully by occupation of terra nullius (or No Man’s Land), which is an established method of acquiring uninhabited islands under international law. Japan conducted thorough surveys from 1885 through which it was confirmed that the Islands were terra nullius and incorporated them in January 1895.
The process had nothing to do with the settlement of the Sino-Japanese War in May 1895 by which Taiwan and its adjacent islands were ceded by China. This clearly shows that the author’s argument, “The Chinese Qing Dynasty lost the Island to Japan in 1894 during the war,” is inconsistent with the historical facts.
The author’s statements such as “Historical records suggest that the Chinese first came to waters around the Islands” or “Taiwan considers the Island as its natural part because Taiwan is closer to the Island than either China or Japan” are not relevant to the question of sovereignty over territories under globally accepted principle of international law.
The author also ignores the fact that neither China nor Taiwan raised a voice over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands until very recently.
To facilitate the understanding of the readers, let me explain how Japanese territories were legally defined as a result of WW II:
After WWII, under the principles set forth by the Allied Powers, all Japanese territories taken as the result of wars and violence had to be renounced. And Japan, as a defeated country, did exactly that.
In drafting the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which legally determined the post-war boundary of Japanese territories, the Allied Powers did not regard the Senkaku Islands as territories to be renounced but treated them as inherent territories of Japan. That is why the Senkaku Islands were put under US trusteeship as part of the Japanese Nansei Archipelago in Okinawa, which peacefully reverted to Japan in 1972.
Neither China nor Taiwan protested over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands for about 20 years after the conclusion of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. It was only after the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) report in 1968, which pointed out the potential petroleum resources in the areas surrounding the Islands, that China and Taiwan abruptly started making their own assertions about the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands. There are no logically consistent explanations by either China or Taiwan on their long years of silence over Japan’s sovereignty over and effective control of the Senkaku Islands.
In fact, various documents show that China had recognized Japan’s territorial sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands before 1970. One example is the article, “Battle of people in the Ryukyu Islands against the U.S. Occupation” of January 8 1953 in the People’s Daily, the official paper of the Communist Party of China, which clearly states that the Ryukyu Islands “consist of 7 groups of islands [including] the Senkaku Islands”.
There are numerous misconceptions in the article which I will not point out one by one. For further details on the Senkaku Islands, please refer to: http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/senkaku/senkaku.html.
Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan
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