Senkaku Islands

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Senkaku / Diaoyutai
Map showing the location of Dokdo
Japanese name
Kanji 尖閣諸島
Hepburn romanization Senkaku Shotō
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 釣魚台群島
Simplified Chinese 钓鱼台群岛
Pinyin Diàoyútái Qúndǎo
English name
English spelling Pinnacle Islands

The Senkaku Islands or Diaoyutai Islands are a group of disputed, uninhabited islands currently administered by Japan, but claimed by the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan). They are also known as the Pinnacle Islands, a name given by British navigators, which is also the probable source for the Japanese name. The Chinese name for the island group (Diaoyu) and the Japanese name for the main island (Uotsuri) both literally mean "Angling". Their status has emerged as a major issue in foreign relations between China and Japan. Relations between the PRC and the ROC have also complicated the situation.


[edit] Geography

Location of the islands (inside red rectangle and inset). 1 Uotsuri Jima/Diaoyu Dao, 2 Taisho Jima/Chiwei Yu, 3 Kuba Jima/Huangwei Yu, 4 Kita Kojima/Beixiao Dao, 5 Minami Kojima/Nanxiao Dao, 6 Okino Kitaiwa/Da bei xiao dao, 7 Okino Minami-iwa/Da nan xiao dao, 8 Tobise/Fei lai dao
Location of the islands (inside red rectangle and inset). 1 Uotsuri Jima/Diaoyu Dao, 2 Taisho Jima/Chiwei Yu, 3 Kuba Jima/Huangwei Yu, 4 Kita Kojima/Beixiao Dao, 5 Minami Kojima/Nanxiao Dao, 6 Okino Kitaiwa/Da bei xiao dao, 7 Okino Minami-iwa/Da nan xiao dao, 8 Tobise/Fei lai dao

In Japan, the islands are considered part of the Southwest Islands. They are 170 km north of Ishigaki Island, Japan; 170 km northeast of Keelung, Taiwan; and 410 km west of Okinawa Island. The PRC considers that the islands sit on the edge of the continental shelf of mainland Asia, and are separated from the Ryukyu Islands by a sea trench, while Japan considers that the continental shelf stretches to the much deeper Nansei-shoto Trench, east to the Southwest Islands and that the islands and the Ryukyu Islands are on the same continental shelf. The group is made up of five small volcanic islands:

[edit] Uotsuri Jima/Diaoyu Dao

Aerial view of Uotsuri-jima / Diaoyu-dao
Aerial view of Uotsuri-jima / Diaoyu-dao

Uotsuri Jima (魚釣島) or Diaoyu Dao (釣魚島本島 "Angling Island" or 主島) is the largest island of the Senkaku Islands. The Island located at 25°44′39″N, 123°28′26″E has an area of 4.319 km² and a highest elevation of 383m.[2]

Uotsuri jima has a number of endemic species such as the Senkaku mole ( Nesoscaptor uchidai) and Okinawa-kuro-oo-ari ant, but these have become threatened by domestic goats that were introduced to the island in 1978 and whose population has increased to over 300 since that time.[1]

[edit] Kuba Jima/Huangwei Yu

Kuba Jima (久場島) or Huangwei Yu (黃尾嶼 "Yellow Tail") is located at 25°55′23″N, 123°40′59″E has an area of 1.08 km² and a highest elevation of 117 m.[3]

[edit] Taisho Jima/Chiwei Yu

Taisho Jima (大正島) or Chiwei Yu (赤尾嶼 "Red Tail") (also "Chi Yu", "Chi kan Yu", "Chi Wei Shan", "Chi Wei Dao", "Chi Wei Jiao") is located at 25°55′18″N, 124°33′34″E has an area of 0.609 km² and a highest elevation of 75m.[4] People's Republic of China and Republic of China claim it as their eastmost island.

The US Navy used Kuba Jima/Huangwei Yu and Taisho Jima/Chiwei Yu as maneuver areas after World War II.

[edit] Kita Kojima/Beixiao Dao

Kita Kojima or Beixiao Dao (北小島 "Northern Islet") is located at 25°43′48″N, 123°32′33″E and has an area of 0.31 km² and a highest elevation of 125 m.[5]

[edit] Minami Kojima/Nanxiao Dao

Minami Kojima or Nanxiao Dao (南小島 "Southern Islet") is located at 25°43′21″N, 123°33′07″E and has an area of 0.40 km² and a highest elevation of 139 m.

Minami Kojima is one of the few breeding places of the rare Short-tailed Albatross.

[edit] Other islands

There are also three larger rocks:

  • Okino Kitaiwa (沖ノ北岩 Northern Rocks of the Offshore?) or Da bei xiao dao (大北小島 "Great northern small island") [6]
  • Okino Minami-iwa (沖ノ南岩 Southern Rocks of the Offshore?) or Da nan xiao dao (大南小島 "Great southern small island")[7]
  • Tobise (飛瀬 Stepping-Stones?) or Fei lai dao (飛瀬島 "Flying Shoal"), highest elevation 2m [8]

[edit] Territorial dispute

The islands are currently administered by Japan as a part of Ishigaki City, Okinawa prefecture. According to both the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC), the islands are part of Taiwan Province (Daxi Village (大溪里), Toucheng Township, Yilan County, Taiwan Province).

[edit] Chinese claims

[edit] Ming Dynasty claim

China claims that the islands were within the Ming Dynasty's sea-defense area and are a part of Taiwan.[2] According to the Chinese, the islands were first mentioned in literature in 1372 and were first documented by royal visitors travelling from China to the Ryūkyū Kingdom, located in what is now Japan's Okinawa prefecture. Their documentation states: "When crossing the sea, we could see black ocean current underneath. The guide said, after passing this black current, they will leave the boundary of China. At this stage, we can see a series of islands that cannot be seen on the return trip."

[edit] Qing Dynasty claim

From 1624 until 1662, Taiwan and its surrounding islands were controlled by the Dutch as a base for commerce. In 1662, the Dutch were driven out by ex-Ming Dynasty general Zheng Chenggong (more popularly known as Koxinga). Zheng Chenggong and his successors established the Kingdom of Tungning and controlled the area until 1683. That year, Zheng's grandson Zheng Ke-Shuang was defeated by Qing Dynasty forces led by Admiral Shi Lang. From then on, Qing Dynasty China gained effective control over Taiwan and its surrounding islands, including the islands in dispute today.[3]

[edit] Unequal Treaties

After losing the First Sino-Japanese War, Qing China signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki on 17 April 1895. This "unequal treaty" ceded Taiwan and its surrounding islands to Japan, although without explicitly mentioning the islands in dispute today. The formal position of China is that all the "unequal treaties" are null and void and thus the islands are still part of Taiwan Province of China.[citation needed]

[edit] Tokyo court ruling

China also asserted that in 1944, the Tokyo court ruled that the islands were part of Taihoku Prefecture (Taipei Prefecture), following a dispute between Okinawa Prefecture and Taihoku Prefecture. However, the assertion was solely based on a "claim" by the president of the fishermen's association of Keelung city in 4 August 1971. The primary source of this paragraph can be found in the journal "Modern China Studies", Issue 1, 1997 (in Simplified Chinese).[9].

[edit] Japanese claims

[edit] Formal incorporation

Japan claims that after the Meiji Restoration, the Japanese government conducted surveys of the islands beginning in 1885 confirming no evidence that the uninhabited islands had been under Chinese control, though this conflicts with the earlier Chinese claim of the islands during the Qing Dynasty. At the time of this survey, Japan did not formally declare a claim to the islands. Instead, it waited until January 14, 1895, during the middle of the First Sino-Japanese War, to do this. Just three months prior to its military victory in the war and the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, Japan erected a marker on the islands to formally incorporate them as its territory. This decision was not made public until 1950, however.[10] Four of the islands were subsequently borrowed and developed by the Koga family with the permission of the Japanese government.

[edit] History of Ming

Japanese scholars claim that neither China nor Okinawa had recognized sovereignty over the uninhabited islands. Therefore, they claim that Chinese documents only prove that Kumejima, the first inhabited island reached by the Chinese, belonged to Okinawa. Kentaro Serita (芹田健太郎) of Kobe University points out that the official history book of the Ming Dynasty compiled during the Qing Dynasty, called the History of Ming (明史), describes Taiwan in the "Stories of Foreign Countries" (外国列传). Thus, China did not control the Senkaku Islands or Taiwan during the Ming dynasty.[11] However, the Qing Dynasty gained control of Taiwan and its surrounding islands in 1683, which was 39 years after the fall of the Ming Dynasty.

[edit] Beiyang warlord admission

In a testimonial in 1920, a diplomat from the Chinese Beiyang warlord government admitted that the islands belonged to the Yaeyama District of Okinawa prefecture. Taiwan and its surrounding islands were ceded to Japan in 1895 in the Treaty of Shimonoseki. However, China argues that Taiwan and its surrounding islands were returned to Chinese sovereignty after World War II in 1945. Cairo Communiqué

[edit] United States occupation

Japan claims that after World War II, the islands came under the United States occupation of Okinawa. During this period, the United States and the Ryūkyū Government administered the islands and the US Navy even used Kuba-jima and Taisho-jima as maneuver areas. In 1972, sovereignty over Okinawa, and arguably the surrounding islands, was handed back to Japan as part of the Treaty of San Francisco.

Japanese scholars point out that it would not have been difficult for the Republic of China (ROC) to occupy these islands in 1945, because the ROC had already occupied Taiwan and the surrounding islands two months before the US military occupation was extended to the Yaeyama Islands. Thus, they claim that this proves the ROC's lack of willingness to assume authority over the islands. They also point to official Chinese publications that show the islands as part of Okinawa.

Taiwanese scholars reject Japan's claim, stating that the ROC government maintains sovereignty over the islands. They assert that when US forces were stationed on Taiwan during the Cold War, military maneuvers were periodically held which required the use of the islands as an aerial bombing target, and the US military applied each time to the ROC government, instead of to Japanese authorities, for authorization.

Taiwanese sources also argue that the 1954 ROC-US Mutual Defense Treaty contains wording implying that the ROC controlled the islands. The ROC government and the US later agreed to have US forces patrol the area several miles north of the island of Taiwan. Thus, the ROC had agreed to have US forces patrol the area around the islands.

[edit] Beginning of the dispute

A survey in 1968 found potential oil fields in the East China Sea, drawing attention to the islands. The PRC and ROC governments subsequently pressed their claims of sovereignty over them. The ROC officially claimed the islands for the first time on June 11, 1971, followed by the PRC on December 30. Japan responded by counter-claiming the islands.

[edit] Recent developments

Protesters displaying the flags of Republic of China and People's Republic of China on the main island on October 7, 1996.
Protesters displaying the flags of Republic of China and People's Republic of China on the main island on October 7, 1996.
  • 1988: The Japan Youth Association set up a lighthouse on the main island.
  • July 14, 1996: The Japan Youth Association builds a 5-m high, solar-powered, aluminum lighthouse on another island.
  • September 14, 1996: a US State Department spokesman referred to the US's neutral position on the Senkaku Islands issue.
  • September 26, 1996: David Chan (陳毓祥), a Hong Kong protester, drowns while trying to swim to the main island with several companions.
  • October 7, 1996: Protesters plant the flags of the ROC and the PRC on the main island, but they were later removed by the Japanese authorities.
  • April 09, 1999: US Ambassador to Japan Thomas S. Foley said "we are not, as far as I understand, taking a specific position in the dispute.... we do not assume that there will be any reason to engage the security treaty in any immediate sense."
  • April 2002: The Japanese government leased Uotsuri and other islands from the purported private owners.
  • March 24, 2004: A group of Chinese activists from the PRC planned to stay on the Islands for three days. The seven people who landed on the islands were arrested by Japanese authorities for illegal entry. The Japanese Foreign Ministry forwarded a complaint to the PRC government, but the PRC in turn demanded the release of the activists. They were then sent to Japan and deported from there. Japan subsequently stated that it would prohibit anybody from landing on the islands without prior permission.
  • March 24, 2004: Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman at the US State Department said "The U.S. does not take a position on the question of the ultimate sovereignty of the Senkaku Diaoyu Islands."
  • February 2005: Japan planned to take ownership of a privately-owned lighthouse on Uotsuri, after it was offered to them by the owner, a fisherman living on Ishigaki, Okinawa. The lighthouse is expected to be managed by the Japanese Coast Guard.
  • February 10, 2005: Voice of America U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton said that Japan's new assertiveness is in line with the desires of many Japanese politicians to take their country beyond its post-World War Two pacifism. "It's a question of the evolution of Japanese thinking on its own. Japan has made it clear they want to resolve all of the territorial disputes by diplomatic means and that's certainly something that we agree with. Our kind of getting in the middle of it is probably not the most productive way to proceed."
  • June 2005: The ROC dispatched a ROCN frigate into disputed waters (but did not go as far as the islands) after Taiwanese fishing vessels were harassed by Japanese patrol boats. The frigate, which was carrying Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng and ROC Defense Minister Lee Jye, was not challenged and returned to Taiwan without incident. Fisheries talks between Taipei and Tokyo were held in July, but did not cover sovereignty issues.
  • March 17, 2006: Kyodo News reported the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Thomas Schieffer presented that he considered "the Islands as territory of Japan" in his talk in Tokyo.[4]
  • October 9, 2006: Virginia Senate candidate James Webb raised the Senkaku Islands controversy during a debate with incumbent George Allen sponsored by the League of Women Voters; a baffled Allen replied, "I'll have to study that."[5]
  • October 27, 2006: A group of activists from Hong Kong, the Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands, including Tsang Kin Shing and several members of the April Fifth Action entered 12 km from from the islands, in order to show China's claim of sovereignty. They were blocked by the Japan Coast Guard.[6] PRC also sent the fleet including Sovremenny class destroyers recently purchased from Russia and carried out a military exercise for the assistance.[7][8]

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. ^ Yokohata, Y. (1999). "Urgent appeal for the conservation of the natural environment in Uotsuri-jima Island in Senkaku Islands, Japan". Recent advances in the biology of Japanese Insectivora . Proceedings of the Symposium on the biology of insectivores in Japan and on the wildlife conservation: 79-87, Laboratory of Environmental Biology, Faculty of Education, Toyama University. Retrieved on 2006-12-9. 
  2. ^ "China's Diaoyu Islands Sovereignty is Undeniable", People's Daily, 25-05-2003. Retrieved 24-02-2007.
  3. ^ 中國領土釣魚台, Retrieved on 2007-02-26.
  4. ^ (ja) Kyodo News, March 17, 2006[1]
  5. ^ Washington Post " Allen, Webb in Slashing, Wide-Ranging Debate" October 10, 2006; "Stump the Candidate: Politicians Vie To Trip Up Opponents" November 2, 2006. Accessed December 15, 2006.
  6. ^ International Herald Tribune/Associated Press, October 26, 2006 "Activist ship from Hong Kong briefly enters Japan's waters in protest over islands"
  7. ^ "東海禁航解放軍演習 (East China Sea closed for People's Liberation Armed Forces' exercise)", Sing Tao Daily, 2005-10-25. Retrieved on January 1, 2007. (in Chinese) “解放軍在東海演習的消息傳出後,立即在內地網站引起熱烈討論。很多網民認為這次演習目的是要「殺殺日本的囂張氣焰」,也有人說這次演習就是要為保釣人士「保駕護航」。[The story of PLA Forces' exercise in East China Sea sparked intense debate on websites in Mainland China. Many regard this exercise as 'to extinguish the blatant insolence of Japan', while some have said that the exercise was to 'protect and guard' Diaoyutai activists in the area.]”
  8. ^ (ja) Nihon Keizai Shimbun, November 5, 2006, "中国、東シナ海で軍事演習中に爆発事故"

[edit] References

  • Suganuma, Unryu. Sovereign rights and territorial space in Sino-Japanese relations: Irredentism and the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. Honolulu: Association for Asian Studies and University of Hawai’i Press, 2000.

[edit] External links