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Disputed islands with China not Japan's territories: Japanese scholar

By Liu Tian, Guo Yina (Xinhua)

08:42, July 19, 2013

TOKYO, July 18 (Xinhua) -- A Japanese scholar has said that the disputed islands between Japan and China are not Japanese inherent territories and he questioned statements by the Japanese Foreign Ministry on the disputed issue through his recent researches.

Murata Tadayoshi, honorary professor at Japan's Yokohama National University, concluded in "The Origin of Japan-China Territorial Disputes," his new book based on documents released by the Japanese government, that the disputed islands are not a part of Ryukyu, which was occupied by Japan in 1879 and changed its name to Okinawa.

"Geographically speaking, it is difficult for Okinawa fishermen to cross the 2000-meter-deep Okinawa Trough by small ships. However, for those who came from Fujian and Taiwan, the water surrounding the islands is shallow sea and they can fish there, even now," Tadayoshi told Xinhua in a recent interview.

He said that based on his research, he found that then Okinawa Governor Sutezou Nishimura was reluctant to follow then Home Minister Aritomo Yamagata's order to erect territorial markers on the islands as the governor knew the relations between the islets and China.

"In 1885, Nishimura suggested the Japanese government not to set indications on the islands because he actually acknowledged the relations between the islets and China and he replied to Yamagata that he was worried about the marker erecting," said Tadayoshi, adding Yamagata finally suspended his order.

"In fact, the Japanese government rejected the demands of incorporating the islands raised by other Okinawa governors in the 1890s," Tadayoshi said, "However, the thing changed in 1894 when Japan waged the Sino-Japanese War and Japan believed that it will defeat China."

"Japan 'stole'the islands during the Sino-Japanese war and the government did not announce the move neither to Japanese people nor the international community," the professor said.

Tadayoshi also said that the Japanese government only conducted a six-hour survey in October 1894 over the islands, rather than what the Foreign Ministry claimed in its statement that from 1885, surveys of the islands "had been thoroughly conducted by the Government of Japan through the agencies of Okinawa Prefecture and by way of other methods."

The professor said that in an attempt to allege there are no territorial disputes between Japan and China over the islands, the ministry declassified historical references but withheld some facts concerning the consensus reached by the two countries' leaders in the 1970s.

Tadayoshi also said that the findings about Nishimura is something new and quite newsworthy but no Japanese newspapers wrote any stories about it. "They used silence to 'kill'dissent, " he added.

"My study is on the basis of materials unveiled by the Japanese side and I believe that no one can refute my conclusion by using existed references. If new documents were released or found, I would like to review my points," the professor said.

Tadayoshi also hoped that Japan and China could communicate over the issue and map out rules to prevent unexpected accidents from occurring near the disputed islands. "China has made its own efforts towards reaching the goal," the professor added.

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