In response to an Oct. 13 letter to the editor (“Senkakus part of China, not Japan,” Letters to the Editor), I would like to present Japan’s official stance regarding the Senkaku Islands. The Senkaku Islands are the inherent territory of - and under the valid control of - Japan.
First, the Japanese government decided in January 1895 to incorporate the islands formally into its territory after surveys confirmed that the islands had been uninhabited and showed no trace of having been controlled by China. Nor were the islands part of Taiwan, which was ceded to Japan from China in accordance with the Treaty of Shimonoseki that came into effect in May 1895.
Accordingly, the Senkaku Islands are not included in Taiwan or any other territory that Japan renounced under the San Francisco Peace Treaty. The administrative rights over the islands had been exercised by the United States until they were returned to Japan in 1972. Neither China nor Taiwan expressed objection to the status of the islands being under U.S. administration until the latter half of 1970, when the question of the development of petroleum resources on the continental shelf of the East China Sea came to the surface.
Furthermore, in light of international law, none of the points raised by China and Taiwan as “historic, geographic or geological” evidence provide valid grounds to support their arguments regarding the Senkaku Islands. In fact, a letter issued in May 1920 by the Chinese Consulate in Japan refers to the Senkaku Islands as part of Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture. An article in the People’s Daily dated Jan. 8, 1953, as well as a Chinese map issued by the most authentic map publishers of China in 1960, also describes the islands as part of Okinawa.
Minister/Director of Public Affairs
Embassy of Japan