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Diaoyu Islands

The Diaoyu Islands are a group of uninhabited islands located roughly due east of mainland China, northeast of Taiwan, west of Okinawa Island, and north of the southwestern end of the Ryukyu Islands. They are currently controlled by Japan, which calls them Senkaku Islands. Both China and Taiwan claim sovereignty over the islands. 


Japan just a caretaker, not owner, of islands in East China Sea

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 December, 2012, 1:36am

I refer to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's pre- and post-election remarks about the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, including the comment that they are "inherent Japanese territory" ("Abe 'in no doubt' about islands row", December 17).

He said his government would not give a millimetre in the dispute with China over these islands, and wants to amend the non-aggression clause in Japan's constitution and give the Self-Defence Forces military status.

Mr Abe made such fiery remarks not only to help him win the general election, given the rise of extreme nationalist factions, but also as an expression of his own belief in the concept of bushido [the warrior's code of honour] .

He said he regretted having missed out on the annual visit to the [controversial] Yasukuni shrine [which honours Japan's war dead, including war criminals] during the one year he was last prime minister, in 2007.

Of course, such rhetoric helps divert the attention of Japanese citizens from the fact that the country is in dire economic straits. Politically, it is also in a state of flux; Abe is the seventh prime minister in 6-1/2 years.

However, Abe's argument is wrong, and it is most worrying in light of the increasing air and sea encounters by patrols from both sides around these islands.

It is hoped that during Abe's visit to the United States, he will be put right and the patrols will remain unarmed.

It is hard to find justification for the "inherent Japanese territory" claim and the consequent stand by Tokyo to defend its sovereign territory.

The Cairo and Potsdam declarations and the San Francisco peace treaty wiped the slate clean regarding the ownership and control of these islands, requiring Japan to relinquish ownership and control of them.

What the Japanese could justifiably say is that the US handed over the administration of these islands to Japan in 1972. And as long as the Japanese administration is there, it has the duty to prevent the unauthorised entry of air and marine craft as well as personnel into the territorial waters - and on the soil - of these islands.

However, while the Japanese have been doing the right thing driving out trespassers, they have done so based on the wrong premise that the islands are Japanese territory.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan


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This article is now closed to comments

I don’t understand the last two paragraphs of Mr Lok’s letter, about the "handover" of Diaoyus’ administration by the US to Japan and Japanese “duty to prevent the unauthorised entry”
(1) How has which authority on what basis defined the mandate of the islands’ administration? Without consensus on a clear and legitimate mandate, there is no question of trespass.
(2) The normalization of diplomatic relationship between China / Japan in 1972 was based on the mutual recognition of the islands’ contentious soverignty and agreement not to discuss the issue until both countries are ready to resolve it in a wise (appropriate) manner. Japan’s unilateral nationalization of the islands has revoked normalization.
(3) Ryukyu and Diaoyu involve separate sovereignty issues which the US has no right to dictate. According to Cairo and Potsdam, Japan CANNOTclaim them. At the end of WW2, Ryukyu should have been either reverted to Chinese administration (suzerainty) or granted independence.
(4) The arrangement of turning Ryukyus into a W Pacific Diego Garcia and making Japan responsible for the islands’ politics, is in effect another US version of extra-territorial rendition.
(5) It is blatant hypocrisy and stupidity that the US, while claiming neutrality over sovereignty “handed over” the island’s administration to a contending party.
(6) The Yankee/Nippo consensus is that better to pick a fight and weaken China now than later when China becomes stronger.


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