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Facing war history

(China Daily)

09:15, October 05, 2012

Soul-searching of its military aggressions is a must for Japan to exhibit its political will and solve disputes with neighbors

The Yoshihiko Noda administration is not seeing the wood for the trees devoting all its energy to the Diaoyu Islands. It is letting its country's diplomatic relations with China stagnate.

By putting these islands under Japanese government control, the Noda administration is trying to fool people into thinking that Japan has a legal right to them.

However, its claim of sovereignty over these islands, also known as Diaoyutai in the Taiwan region of China and as the Senkakus in Japan, is untenable on two historical fronts.

China discovered and controlled the islands from the 14th century. For several centuries the Diaoyu Islands have been administered as part of Taiwan and have always been used exclusively by Chinese fishermen as a base for fishing, both before and after World War II.

In 1874 Japan took the Liu Chiu Islands, known as the Ryukyu Islands or as represented by its biggest island Okinawa in Japan, by force when the Chinese Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was at war with several countries. The Diaoyu Islands, however, remained under the administration of Taiwan, an inalienable part of China. Following its defeat in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, the Qing government was forced to cede Taiwan including the affiliated islands of Diaoyu to Japan under the Shimonoseki Treaty.

After WWII the Japanese government accepted the terms in the 1943 Cairo Declaration and 1945 Potsdam Proclamation, including the one "that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa (as Taiwan was referred to prior to 1945), the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China".

On Sept 2, 1945, the Japanese government accepted the Potsdam Proclamation in explicit terms with the Japanese Instrument of Surrender and pledged to faithfully fulfill the obligations enshrined in the provisions of the Potsdam Proclamation.

All the documents shatter Japan's justification for its claim of sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands. The Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Proclamation enabled the victorious nations including China to create a post-war international order.

The San Francisco Peace Treaty, which was signed between Japan, the United States and some other countries in 1951 without China being present, placed the Nansei Islands south of the 29th parallel of North Latitude under United Nations' trusteeship, with the United States as the sole administering authority. This arrangement was protested by the Chinese government.

The Nansei Islands placed under the administration of the US did not include Diaoyu Islands. The United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (USCAR) issued Provisions of the Government of the Ryukyu Islands on Feb 29, 1952 and Civil Administration Proclamation No 27 (defining the "geographical boundary lines of the Ryukyu Islands") on Dec 25, 1953, arbitrarily expanding its jurisdiction to include China's Diaoyu Islands.

In 1972 the administration of the islands were reverted illegally to Japanese control under the Okinawa Reversion Treaty between the US and Japan.

This control does not necessarily entitle Japan to sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands.

China decided that its contemporary relations with Japan should not be held hostage to history. So in 1972 - 27 years after Japan's surrender, which marked the end of Japanese aggression - China established diplomatic relations with Japan.

To make this happen, the leaders of the two countries were forward-looking and wise. They agreed to put aside the territorial dispute of the Diaoyu Islands.

The minutes kept by the Committee on the International Relations of Japan's House of Representatives on Aug 18, 1978 reveal Japanese Foreign Minister Sunao Sonoda's proposal on joint development of the Diaoyu Islands.

Today's Japanese leaders have the nerve to say there is no dispute on the islands.

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