Diaoyu Islands

Japan must give back islands

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 April, 2013, 5:59am

I refer to your editorial ("The world looks at Sino-US talks", March 21).

You mentioned that US President Barack Obama will meet the newly-elected Chinese President Xi Jinping possibly in September.

Mr Obama will also visit Japan and South Korea during that trip. During his visits he will probably once again urge the leaders of the three countries to try to solve the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute between China and Japan, and the Dokdo/Takashima Island dispute between South Korea and Japan, peacefully.

After the Meiji Restoration in Japan, its military formulated a plan of hegemony. Their justification was that Japan did not have enough land mass to feed its people and it needed natural resources for its modernisation.

Taiwan with its rich farmlands and Manchuria with its rich mineral resources were targeted.

In 1894, Korea, which was then a protectorate of China, had an internal rebellion. Japan, in the name of helping Korea to put down the rebellion, sent troops into the country.

After the rebellion was put down, Japan refused to withdraw its troops. That was the cause of the first Sino-Japanese War. In January 1895, when Japan saw it was going to win that war, it annexed the Diaoyu Islands into its Okinawa prefecture. The hapless Qing court probably was not even aware of this fact.

The Diaoyu Islands should have been returned to China in the San Francisco Peace treaty signed in 1951 between Japan and the Allied powers. Instead, the US included it into Okinawa and put the prefecture under US administration. It was an expedient move.

At that time the US was engaged in the Korean War with the People's Republic of China, and needed Okinawa as a military base. If the US had suggested returning the islands to China then Japan would not have acceded to Okinawa being put under US administration so easily.

Japan's hegemony plan succeeded in annexing Korea in 1910, and ruled it as a colony. After Japan was defeated in the second world war, Korea was returned to the Korean people but Japan kept Dokdo Island, claiming it belonged to Japan.

The disputed islands were taken from China and Korea during the days of Japanese militarism. Unless mutually acceptable solutions are found between the countries involved to settle the disputes, it will be difficult for China and Korea to go onto the path of true friendship and co-operation with Japan.

Alex Woo, Tsim Sha Tsui