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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. 


Tokyo shocked by Yukio Hatoyama's sympathy for China's view on sovereignty

Hatoyama's comment over Senkakus leaves official government spokesman 'dumbfounded'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 June, 2013, 3:16pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 June, 2013, 2:43am

Japan's top government spokesman yesterday declared himself dumbfounded after a recent prime minister said he understood China's claim to islands at the centre of a bitter row between Tokyo and Beijing.

Yukio Hatoyama, a left winger whose brief term as premier was almost universally regarded as a flop, told Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television it was "unavoidable" that China believed Japan "stole" the Senkaku islands.

The uninhabited outcrop in the East China Sea, which Beijing claims as the Diaoyus, is the subject of a decades-old dispute that has flared badly in the last year. Both countries continue to send official ships to the area to press their ownership.

Japan says it brought previously unclaimed islands under its control in 1895. China says they were illegally snatched and should have been returned alongside other occupied territories after the second world war.

During the interview, which was broadcast in China on Tuesday, Hatoyama said: "It is unavoidable that the Chinese side thinks Japan stole" the islands.

As a media storm gathered, he told Japanese reporters later in the day that he had meant to say there was "a possibility" that China might think that way.

Japan's chief government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said Hatoyama's comments were "outrageous".

"I was completely at a loss for words when I heard about his remarks. It was literally jaw-dropping," he told a news conference this week.

"It is outrageous and unforgivable that a former prime minister has said things that hurt our national interests," Suga said.

Asked again on Wednesday about the episode, Suga said he had still not recovered his tongue.

"I said yesterday that I was left open-mouthed. I still remain so."

Despite the regular stand-off between official vessels at the islands, Japan's stated position is that there is no dispute over the archipelago.

Hatoyama, who led the now-opposition Democratic Party of Japan and served as prime minister between September 2009 and June 2010, has left politics, but as heir to the Bridgestone tyre empire he still remains active in business circles.

His time in office was marked by confusion and policy flip-flops, including on the US military presence in Okinawa, which managed to alienate voters and irritate Washington without achieving any drawdown of American troops.

Earlier this year, his visit to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial, which marks the scene of one of the Japanese Imperial force's worst wartime atrocities, caused consternation at home when he said he felt "responsibility" for the outrage.


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I think Yukio Hatoyama, despite his somewhat comic reputation as ET, is speaking the truth about history. He has asked other Japanese politician to study history. Many people who is sympathetic to Japan's position keep on arguing that the islands were Terra Nullius, ie they belonged to no one when they were "incorporated" in a secret cabinet decision on 14 January 1895, three months before signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, in which China ceded Taiwan and its affiliated islands ( that should include the Senkaku/Diaoyu). Yet Japan has never been able to produce any evidence with its survey report of 1885, alleging the islands belonged to no one. The question is how can they be so sure ? Hatoyama looked into the history of China before 1895, or even before 1884, he was obviously convinced that China owned the islands by using the islands in various ways, including as a fishing ground for hundreds of years. There are simply too much evidence to support China's claim. Yet Japan refused to accept history, and merely look at the so called international law that it claims give it "legal" title.
There are still people in Japan that are sensible and wise.


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