The Inconvenient Truth Behind the Diaoyu Islands

In a guest post on Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times blog, Han-Yi Shaw, a research fellow at Taipei’s National Chengchi University, argues that Japanese historical documents support China’s claim to the Diaoyu Islands—or, at least, Taiwan’s.

Collectively, these official documents leave no doubt that the Meiji government did not base its occupation of the islands following “on-site surveys time and again,” but instead annexed them as booty of war. This is the inconvenient truth that the Japanese government has conveniently evaded.

Japan asserts that neither Beijing nor Taipei objected to U.S. administration after WWII. That’s true, but what Japan does not mention is that neither Beijing nor Taipei were invited as signatories of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951, from which the U.S. derived administrative rights.

When Japan annexed the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in 1895, it detached them from Taiwan and placed them under Okinawa Prefecture. Moreover, the Japanese name “Senkaku Islands” itself was first introduced in 1900 by academic Kuroiwa Hisashi and adopted by the Japanese government thereafter. Half a century later when Japan returned Taiwan to China, both sides adopted the 1945 administrative arrangement of Taiwan, with the Chinese unaware that the uninhabited “Senkaku Islands” were in fact the former Diaoyu Islands. This explains the belated protest from Taipei and Beijing over U.S. administration of the islands after the war.

Shaw’s argument should really be read in its entirety. Kristof has invited Japanese scholars to respond. 

See more on the heated Diaoyu Islands dispute via CDT.

September 19, 2012 11:49 PM
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