Senkaku Islands : Position of the Japanese Government – Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

From 1885 on, surveys of the Senkaku Islands had been thoroughly made by the Government of Japan through the agencies of Okinawa Prefecture and by way of other methods. Through these surveys, it was confirmed that the Senkaku Islands had been uninhabited and showed no trace of having been under the control of China. Based on this confirmation, the Government of Japan made a Cabinet Decision on 14 January 1895 to erect a marker on the Islands to formally incorporate the Senkaku Islands into the territory of Japan.

Since then, the Senkaku Islands have continuously remained as an integral part of the Nansei Shoto Islands which are the territory of Japan. These islands were neither part of Taiwan nor part of the Pescadores Islands which were ceded to Japan from the Qing Dynasty of China in accordance with Article II of the Treaty of Shimonoseki which came into effect in May of 1895.

Accordingly, the Senkaku Islands are not included in the territory which Japan renounced under Article II of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. The Senkaku Islands have been placed under the administration of the United States of America as part of the Nansei Shoto Islands, in accordance with Article III of the said treaty, and are included in the area, the administrative rights over which were reverted to Japan in accordance with the Agreement Between Japan and the United States of America Concerning the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands signed on 17 June 1971. The facts outlined herein clearly indicate the status of the Senkaku Islands being part of the territory of Japan.

The fact that China expressed no objection to the status of the Islands being under the administration of the United States under Article III of the San Francisco Peace Treaty clearly indicates that China did not consider the Senkaku Islands as part of Taiwan. It was not until the latter half of 1970, when the question of the development of petroleum resources on the continental shelf of the East China Sea came to the surface, that the Government of China and Taiwan authorities began to raise questions regarding the Senkaku Islands.

Furthermore, none of the points raised by the Government of China as “historic, geographic or geological” evidence provide valid grounds, in light of international law, to support China’s arguments regarding the Senkaku Islands.

  • Q&A on the Senkaku Islands(English / Japanese / Chinese???? [PDF])
  • Fact Sheet: Position of Japan on the Senkaku Islands (English / French [PDF]PDF)
  • Position Paper: Japan-China Relations Surrounding the Situation of the Senkaku Islands(English?Japanese?
  • Three Truths about the Senkaku Islands(English?Japanese(PDF)PDF)
  • Statements made by H.E. Mr. Kazuo Kodama, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN in exercise of the right of reply, following the statement made by H.E. Mr. Yang Jiechi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China at the General Debate (Japanese) (English) (September 27, 2012)

Senkaku Islands : Position of the Japanese Government – Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Japan version on Senkaku Islands

Dear Mr. Rehmat Shah Afridi:

I welcome any open and fair discussion on any issues including the Senkaku Islands of Japan. But, it was very disappointing to see the article, “The Sino-Japanese row over disputed Islands” of November 7 2012 by Dr. Ahmad Rashid Malik, as it lacked basic understanding of the historical facts and international law.

Japan acquired the Senkaku Islands peacefully and lawfully by occupation of terra nullius (or No Man’s Land), which is an established method of acquiring uninhabited islands under international law. Japan conducted thorough surveys from 1885 through which it was confirmed that the Islands were terra nullius and incorporated them in January 1895.

The process had nothing to do with the settlement of the Sino-Japanese War in May 1895 by which Taiwan and its adjacent islands were ceded by China. This clearly shows that the author’s argument, “The Chinese Qing Dynasty lost the Island to Japan in 1894 during the war,” is inconsistent with the historical facts.

The author’s statements such as “Historical records suggest that the Chinese first came to waters around the Islands” or “Taiwan considers the Island as its natural part because Taiwan is closer to the Island than either China or Japan” are not relevant to the question of sovereignty over territories under globally accepted principle of international law.

The author also ignores the fact that neither China nor Taiwan raised a voice over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands until very recently.

To facilitate the understanding of the readers, let me explain how Japanese territories were legally defined as a result of WW II:

After WWII, under the principles set forth by the Allied Powers, all Japanese territories taken as the result of wars and violence had to be renounced. And Japan, as a defeated country, did exactly that.

In drafting the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which legally determined the post-war boundary of Japanese territories, the Allied Powers did not regard the Senkaku Islands as territories to be renounced but treated them as inherent territories of Japan. That is why the Senkaku Islands were put under US trusteeship as part of the Japanese Nansei Archipelago in Okinawa, which peacefully reverted to Japan in 1972.

Neither China nor Taiwan protested over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands for about 20 years after the conclusion of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. It was only after the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) report in 1968, which pointed out the potential petroleum resources in the areas surrounding the Islands, that China and Taiwan abruptly started making their own assertions about the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands. There are no logically consistent explanations by either China or Taiwan on their long years of silence over Japan’s sovereignty over and effective control of the Senkaku Islands.

In fact, various documents show that China had recognized Japan’s territorial sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands before 1970. One example is the article, “Battle of people in the Ryukyu Islands against the U.S. Occupation” of January 8 1953 in the People’s Daily, the official paper of the Communist Party of China, which clearly states that the Ryukyu Islands “consist of 7 groups of islands [including] the Senkaku Islands”.

There are numerous misconceptions in the article which I will not point out one by one. For further details on the Senkaku Islands, please refer to:

Hiroshi Oe

Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan

Japan version on Senkaku Islands