尖閣列島衝突 ~ The Senkaku Islands Conflict
The Senkaku Islands Conflict
Writer: James Smyth
Editor: Chen Liang-yu
Japan, China, and Taiwan have all their own arguments with respect to the Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands, but in principle, the conflict is simple: each side believes it has the right to the territory. China and Taiwan both believe that they were originally part of China, but until 1895, there were practically no people and no development there. Japan took over in 1895, and instead of calling them the Diaoyu [Fishing] Islands, it called them the Senkaku Islands, which is the Japanese translation of the original English name of “Pinnacle Islands.” America gained control of this area in addition to Okinawa after World War II by peace treaty. In 1971, America returned both of those archipelagos to Japan.
I personally believe China is engaging in brinkmanship. Last year’s conflict with Japan is but one example of its posturing. China continuously expands the range of its operations, but no matter what the conflict, it argues its own actions were legal and says that its neighbors must take responsibility for what happened, for example by apologizing or paying damages. Japan should continue to declare it will never turn the islands over to Taiwan or China: that would encourage them to ask for more. It seems like the two only made their claims after they realized the territory was in play; that is, after America gave it to Japan. If the debate over the islands turns ferocious, Japan could argue that using history to resolve land claims is dangerous: by those standards we can even question whether Xinjiang, Tibet, and even Taiwan are Chinese territory or not.