While Japan and China are still engaged in a territorial squabble over the Senkaku group of islands (Diaoyu in China), some Chinese nationalistic groups are already making other claims on Japanese soil. According to these groups, there is historical basis to prove that the island of Okinawa belongs to China.
Okinawa, the largest in the Ryukyu group of islands which extend from the southwest tip of mainland Japan up to Taiwan, was the center of the Ryukyuan kingdom. The kingdom, situated in between two kingdoms, swore fealty to both Chinese and Japanese lords. Ryukyu was involved with China’s Ming and Qing dynasties as well as Japanese feudal lords, until it was absorbed totally by Japan in 1879, under demand for its complete loyalty to the Japanese empire. Ethnic and linguistic analysis put the people of Okinawa closer to Japanese mainland, but some Chinese believe China has stronger relations. In the Beijing Imperial Museum, an 18th century book written during the Qing dynasty talks about how Ryukyuan students were culturally equal to Chinese students. The Imperial college back then trained both Imperial officials and foreign students.
The Chinese government had not made any claim, but some say that it is secretly encouraging such ideas. State-controlled media have made statements and comments questioning Japanese ownership of the island. The People’s Liberation Army have made a statement, carried by state media, about Ryukyu’s independence as a kingdom under China before it was seized by Japan. Some demonstrators protesting the Senkaku incident have been seen to carry signs reading “Take back Okinawa.” Scholars from both Japan and Western countries state that the historical ties with China are not enough to warrant claims of sovereignty over the island. Residents of Okinawa still can’t help but worry over possible repercussions of the worsening situation between Japan and China, some of whom still remember the bloody battle between U.S. and Japanese forces in 1945. The U.S. has military facilities on Okinawa, raising fears of being a possible target in military actions against either Japan or the U.S.[via France 24]