senkakus history of claims
  • I reply below to the following question "I find it troubling that the PRC (only slightly preceded by ROC) suddenly in 1971 raised a claim to the islands (for a very transparent reason which even Zhou Enlai in 1972 admitted wistfully: oil"

    My reply: I think Zhou Enlai was saying something very different, namely that if Taiwan and the US had not begun to make a fuss about oil possibilities the entire issue could safely have been left on the back burner for the future i.e. shelved. But since Taiwan was making an issue of it all, China too needed to stake its claim.

    As for why Taiwan, and China, waited so long to make claims, the reason should be clear: the entire Nantei Shoto area - the Okinawa islands plus Senkakus - was under US trusteeship up till 1972 and everyone had to wait till that trusteeship was ending before staking formal claims.

    But prior to 1972 Taiwan at least had been making frequent noises that it would be making claims to all the Ryukyus.

    Other hints that the future disposition of Nansei Shoto by the US in favor of Japan was far from decided included:

    1. During the 1943 Cairo Conference Roosevelt at Tehran proposed repeatedly to Chiang Kai-shek that the ROC should take over the Ryukyus at war end.

    2. In 1956 Dulles could say threatenly that Okinawa would not be returned to Japan unless Tokyo went along with US demands over Kuriles policy. You do not make those threats if it is already agreed the territory should be Japanese.

    3. US generals were strong in their belief the territory should not be returned to Japan, and their influence in Washington was strong.

    4. Taiwan in November 1971 felt it could set out to lobby Washington into not granting Japan clear sovereignty over the Senkakus. It could not have done that, and succeeded, unless right throughout the trusteeship era the eventual sovereignty issue was seen as undecided.

    An impressive list. Certainly those of us working on foreign policy in Canberra in 1962 had few illusions that the eventual return of the Nansei Shoto to Japan was already carved in stone (at San Francisco and other postwar war venues, Australia still retained a strong voice).

    Canberra was also insistent that the Cairo-Potsdam demands, accepted by Japan when surrendering, should be carried out in full. This meant that Japan should be stripped of territories gained by aggression. For example
    Canberra intervened in 1951 to discourage Dulles from making a concession to Yoshida over the Kuriles.

    It agreed to US gaining 1952 trusteeship of Nansei Shoto, partly because the terms of that trusteeship implied that the territory had been gained by Japan though aggression, and that the territory should eventually be returned to the free will of the inhabitants. It insisted also that the US should conclude a treaty with it - ANZUS - to prevent future Japanese aggression via those territories.

    The same seizure-by-aggression charge was implied by that US promise at Tehran. Indeed, but for the 1949 defeat of the ROC.and the subsequent Cold War in Asia it is quite possible the
    ROC would have been able to carry out its Tehran suggestion of joint control of the Okinawa islands (including Senkakus) by the ROC and the US.

    Gaimusho here (not to mention the Right wing) make much of those late sixties/early 1970's belated Taiwan and Beijing claims to Senkakus. They should be more careful. They could be opening a Pandora's box.

    The box is the issue of whether in 1972 Japan agreed to shelve the Senkakus question or not. If it did agree then all its claims that it had clear sovereignty since 1895 go into the waste basket. That question is far more important than much Western commentary seems to realise, and will be the topic of another post.

    As for Japan's claims that it gained the territory fairly and legally in 1895. In the middle of the highly aggressive Japanese war against a weak China?

    Japan has its own history of demanding, and gaining, revision of treaties forced upon it unfairly by the West during its period of Tokugawa weakness. Well, if 1895 was not a period of unfair Chinese weakness, then what was it?


  • Thank you ku4 peace.

    I have revised the entire post somewhat. This 1972 shelving issue is even more important than I realised, with evidence from the Japanese side Tokyo has not been telling the truth. Little wonder the Chinese reaction has been so strong.
  • Is there any way we can confirm with Japanese Gov. history article/documents in this regard?

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