I am a male citizen of the United States, retired, currently living in Hawaii. In the past I served in the U.S. Navy. During six years of active duty in the navy, I made two Western Pacific cruises aboard a Destroyer Escort in the mid 1970’s that operated at times in the vicinity of Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, North and South Korea, and the Philippines typically. I have witnessed some rather aggressive behavior on the part of Chinese military units along their coast, even though U.S. Naval forces would be well into international waters. I’ve come to the conclusion over the years that the Chinese government has little respect for any other country. I worry about their intentions toward other nations.
Recently I have seen what I consider to be false claims of ownership of the Senkaku Islands by the Chinese and Taiwanese governments. They have taken their arguments to the US media trying to convince the US public of the validity of their competing claims. I also have seen numerous articles published on the internet regarding the same subject by the same sources, or their cronies. Personally I am shocked that attempts to persuade the American and world public are based on such apparent falsehoods and twisted logic presented in support of their claims.
Since the Treaty of Shimonoseki signed April 17, 1895 between Japan and China, the Senkaku Islands have remained under Japanese administration, except for the period of 1945-1972 U.S. post-war occupation. The U.S. administered the Senkaku Islands from the end of the Battle of Okinawa, gaining physical possession of them, until they were returned to Japan by the United States in 1972.
The Chinese claim the Treaty of Shimonoseki is invalid. I would like to know since when did it become invalid, and how? Countries cannot just sign treaties, and then later unilaterally declare them invalid. If that were possible, in North America as an example, Mexico could claim the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo invalid and that the state of Texas now belongs to Mexico. Mexico may not like the current state of affairs, but their government did sign a treaty and abides by it. So the unilateral declaration by the Chinese government that the Treaty of Shimonoseki is simply invalid is simply wrong.
At no time during the U.S. administration of the Senkaku Islands did China or Taiwan protest, or lay claim to the islands; not to the U.S. and not the United Nations. In 1951, Japan signed the Treaty of San Francisco and formally ceded control of Okinawa, which included the Senkaku Islands, in trust to the U.S. government. China claims not to recognize the Treaty of San Francisco because they were not a party to it. However, the United Nations when organizing the treaty conference could not agree as to who the legitimate government of China was at the time. However, no claims to ownership were made for the Senkaku Islands in China’s objections of August 15, 1951 and September 18, 1951 against being excluded from the treaty conference, though it did lay claim to the Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands and Pratas Islands.
In 1969 discovery of potential oil and gas reserves in the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands was made by the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE).
Just as the Okinawa Reversion Treaty passed the U.S. Senate, returning the islands to Japanese control in 1972, the Taiwanese and Chinese governments officially began to declare ownership of the islands. The clear incentive being to gain control of the valuable resources the Senkaku Islands had now become… but prior to this time, they were of no consequence to the governments of China or Taiwan.
However, in light of the Chinese and Taiwanese claims appearing just as the U.S. was returning the islands captured during WWII to Japan, let’s consider the Taiwanese and Chinese government’s official maps just prior to their new found claims of ownership of the now valuable Senkaku Islands. The map published for the Red Guards, supporters of the Cultural Revolution in 1966 showed the Senkaku Islands outside the border of China, and part of the Ryukyu (Okinawa) Islands of Japan. The atlas for common use by common people published in Beijing, August 1967, indicates the Senkaku Islands included in the Ryukyu Islands, part of Japan. In Taiwan, there was no map displaying the Senkaku Islands within the boundary of China, nor were any such maps produced in the Soviet Union, or Europe. There is an abundance of period map resources from around the world that all support that the Senkaku Islands as being part of Japan at that time.
It has been suggested by supporters of Chinese claims to the Senkaku Islands that since the U.S. said it would take no position regarding any disputed claims of ownership over the islands when the U.S. returned the islands to Japan that that proves the U.S. believed the Chinese claims at the time to have validity. That is not true. Actually, the U.S. believed the Japanese claims were strong, and the Chinese and Taiwanese claims very weak at best. This is clearly shown in a CIA report compiled in May, 1971, which also concluded that, the recently emerging dispute over the islands would not have happened if not for the discovery of potential oil reserves in the vicinity of the islands.
Despite Japanese control of the Senkaku Islands, since the Treaty of Shimonoseki, and after legal transfer to Japanese control by the U.S. in 1972, China and Taiwan have recently tried to wrest control of the islands from Japan by means of intimidation, rather than take any legitimate claims they believe they may have to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Japan conversely does not appear to wish to file a complaint before the court, believing that no valid dispute exists as to its ownership. If this is Japan’s true sentiments, then I believe Japan should not be shy about defending the islands. Yet, Japan appears tolerant of venomous public attacks against its interests in China by Chinese citizens. Japan also appears tolerant of Chinese sea going vessels dedicated to ramming Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships patrolling the Senkaku Islands. The world watches such activities on YouTube videos, so it’s difficult for China to deny these illegal and provocative acts are not taking place. Japanese tolerance is fine up to a point. I can understand Japan’s tolerance so far, because Japan has not demonstrated any aggressive tendencies in this dispute, and that is commendable, up to a point.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government has made it clear to the world that it officially takes no sides in the dispute between China, Taiwan, and Japan in the matter of the Senkaku Islands, believing that any dispute should be resolved by peaceful means. However, China and Taiwan have not chosen peaceful means to resolve their disputes so far. Instead they attempt invasion of disputed territory, intimidation, and in the case of China, sending sea going vessels to ram Japanese Maritime Self Defense vessels. However, the U.S. has also made it clear to the world by numerous official statements such as those made by Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs on Sep 20, 2012 to Reuters news service, that the Senkaku Islands are “clearly” covered by the 1960 security treaty obliging the United States to come to Japan’s aid if attacked. I just want the governments of China and Taiwan to know this, and that their propaganda campaigns to try to influence world opinion against Japan does not change that fact!
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