Kent Wang describes Taiwan's claim to the Senkaku Islands, stating that Japan "snatched" the islands "by force" in 1895 ("Taiwan has rightful claim to islands," Letters, Aug. 28). I would like to present Japan's official view on the Senkaku Islands.
First, there is no doubt that the Senkaku Islands are clearly an inherent territory of Japan based on historical facts and international law, and they are under the valid control of Japan. There exists no issue of territorial sovereignty to be resolved.
After confirming that the Senkaku Islands had been uninhabited and showed no trace of having been under the control of the Qing Dynasty of China through surveys conducted from 1885, the Japanese government made a Cabinet decision in January 1895 to formally incorporate the Senkaku Islands into the territory of Japan. Thus, in accordance with the ways of duly acquiring territorial sovereignty under international law (occupation of terra nullius), Japan acquired territorial sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands. The Treaty of Shimonoseki, which concluded the Sino-Japanese War and through which Taiwan was ceded to Japan from China (and came into effect in May of 1895), has nothing to do with Japan's ownership of the Senkaku Islands. Mr. Wang's assertion of "Japan's snatching of the Senkaku Islands by force" is an absolute factual error. Since then, the Senkaku Islands have continuously remained an integral part of the Nansei Shoto Islands, which are the territory of Japan.
The fact that there was no objection expressed from China or Taiwan to the status of the islands under the administration of the United States under the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951 clearly indicates that they didn't consider the islands part of Taiwan. It was not until the latter half of 1970, when the question regarding the development of petroleum resources on the continental shelf of the East China Sea came to the surface, that they began making their own assertions on the Senkaku Islands.
Counselor, Head of Public Affairs Section
Embassy of Japan
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