I welcome any open and fair discussion on any issue including the Senkaku Islands of Japan. But, it was very disappointing to see the article, “Diaoyu or Senkaku Islands?” of October 31, 2012 by Mr. S.M. Hali, as it lacked basic understanding of the historical facts to a great extent. The writer has mixed up Japan’s claim against China with China’s claim against Japan. Thus, for the benefit of your esteemed readers, I think I should set the record straight over what is true.

The writer attaches importance to history, especially the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951 after WWII to which I have no objections, since this treaty legally determined the post-war boundary of Japanese territories. However, the writer seems to have no basic knowledge of the substance of the treaty or the pertinent historical facts. 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, the Allied Powers did not regard the Senkaku Islands as territories to be renounced, but rather, treated them as inherent territories of Japan. Then, the Senkaku Islands were put under US trusteeship as part of the Japanese Nansei Archipelago, Okinawa. In 1972, these islands reverted to Japan. China did not protest or raise a voice over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands for about 20 years after the conclusion of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. On the contrary, various documents show that China had recognized Japan’s territorial sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands before 1970. One example is the article titled ‘Battle of people in the Ryukyu Islands against the U.S. Occupation’ posted on January 8, 1953 in the People’s Daily, the official paper of the Communist Party of China, which states clearly that the Ryukyu Islands “consist of 7 groups of islands [including] the Senkaku Islands” (see attachment).

Mr S M Hali wrote that “Japan contested its ownership but remained inaction till 1968. But when the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) identified potential undersea oil and gas reserves near the islands, it prompted Japan to lay stake over the Diaoyu Islands.” This statement completely contradicts the historical fact that it was only after the UN ECAFE report in 1968 that China suddenly started making their claims after a 20 year long silence.

My letter will become too long if I pointed out each and every misconception in the article by Mr Hali. For further details on the Senkaku Islands, I would advise you to refer to: http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/senkaku/senkaku.html. One will find there not only an extensive account of the legal and historical aspects of the issue but also abundant facts to substantiate it.

HIROSHI OE,

Embassy of Japan, November 13.