Research Paper: Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands Dispute

Pages: 10 (3252 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  Topic: History - Asian  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] After doing detailed research into the islands' ownership issues, Inoue concluded that "…these islands are territory of the People's Republic of China, the only authority over the entire China" (Pan, 78).

As regards the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the Chinese have never accepted that treaty as legally binding, Pan continues. In fact China issued a strong objection in the form of a formal protest with the U.S. government right after the peace treaty was signed in 1951, Pan explains. If the islands are really Japan's territory, then why did Japan "…claim the islands in 1895, but not earlier, for example, in 1885, when Japan took over today's Diato Islands?" Pan asks. Professor Inoue supports this aspect of investigating the ownership issue. Inoue agrees that the hesitation of the Japanese government when the governor of Okinawa asked to "…take over the Diaoyu Islands" shows that island was "clearly" Chinese territory, not just a piece of property "…the title to which was uncertain" (Pan, 82).

In Pan's conclusion, he notes that both Japan and China have done their best to "…downplay the issue, keep the dispute as low-key as possible, and prevent the trouble from deteriorating bilateral relations" (87). In fact by maintaining the "status quo" is what is most likely to be happening between these two nations as time goes on. A military conflict seems "improbable" because self-restraint over a relatively obscure issue is in the best interest of both sides, Pan writes (88).

The Senkaku Islands Dispute from the Japanese Perspective

In the first place, the Japanese are wary of China's intentions for many reasons; one specific concern is due to historical issues related to China's seeming arrogance and belligerence when it comes to the sovereign rights of nations outside its territory. For example, China's bullying of Tibet has gone on for over sixty years; in that time Tibet has technically been occupied by China and according to Students For A Free Tibet the citizens of Tibet are "…outnumbered by Chinese in their own homeland" (www.studentsforafreetibet.org). In Tibet the Chinese take "political prisoners" and those prisoners are "…subjected to further abuse on their release… [they are] deprived of their political rights," and their movements are restricted, the Students For A Free Tibet assert. Nuns and monks are prevented from returning to their nunneries and monasteries once they are released from prison; instead they are "…condemned to a life of extreme poverty" (www.studentsforafreetibet.org).

An example of this repression can be seen in the example of Nun Phuntsog Nyidrol, who served 17 years as a political prisoner in Tibet. This nun was released in February, 2004, but subsequently she has been "…under close surveillance at her parents' home…and has suffered from constant harassment and restrictions of her movements by the Chinese authorities" (www.freetibet.org).

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA) put out a fact sheet in October, 2010 which stated that the Senkaku 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" (MOFA). Hence, the fact sheet continues, the Senkaku Islands are not included in the territory "…which Japan renounced under Article II of the San Francisco Peace Treaty" (MOFA).

When the United States took over administration of the Japan (upon Japan's surrender in 1945), the U.S. also had administrative control over the Senkaku Islands. And the MOFA insists that "…China expressed no objection to the status of the Islands being under the administration of the United States under Article III" of the peace treaty; and because China did not protest the U.S. including the Senkaku Islands in its portfolio after World War II that indicates to the MOFA that China "…did not consider the Senkaku Islands as part of Taiwan."

In fact China did not protest or raise questions about the true sovereign ownership of the Senkaku Islands until there was a discovery that indicated petroleum resources lay beneath the earth's crust around the Islands, the MOFA continues. This fact sheet was published a month after a Chinese fishing boat entered the waters around the Senkaku Islands in September, 2010. Not only did the fishing boat (which was, according to the MOFA, an "illegal fishing" boat) enter the waters around the Senkaku Islands, there was a collision with a Japanese Coast Guard patrol vessel.

As a result of this international incident, a number of things happened: a) Japan protested the illegal fishing boat but expressed "regret" for the collision; b) Japan protests any deployment of Chinese "public vessels" to waters around the Senkaku Islands; c) Japan also protested the "unilateral announcement by the Chinese side on the 'postponement' of the second round of negotiations to conclude bilateral international agreements to implement the 2008 Japan-China agreements on natural resource development in the East China Sea"; d) Japan called for "calm and prudent action by China; e) Japan regrets that there was a postponement of the parliamentary exchange that was to take place in September, 2010; f) Japan is not pleased with China's threat that "…strong counter measures, for which Japan shall bear all the consequences" with reference to the fishing boat incident in September, 2010; g) "There is no doubt that the Senkaku Islands are clearly an inherent territory of Japan…" and this is based on "historical facts" and on "international law"; h) China's demand for an apology and compensation regarding the collision with the fishing boat that was illegally in Japanese waters is "...completely groundless and is utterly unacceptable for Japan"; and i) both Japan and China must continue making "efforts" to bring about a "Mutually Beneficial Relationship based on Common Strategic Interests" (MOFA).

The "Beinformed" journal explains that up until the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia issued a report in 1969 that "…disclosed that there were vast reserves of oil in the area," the Senkaku Islands did not seem to matter much to anybody." In fact the Beinformed article asserts that the real dispute over the Islands should be between Japan and Taiwan, "…but since China considers Taiwan itself as an integral part of mainland China… it thus considers Senkaku Islands as its own as well."

In the Beinformed journal (2011) the authors explain that the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that 100 billion barrels of oil reserves are "…likely to be found in the East china Sea area" around the Senkaku Islands. Both Japan and China have an "Exclusive Economic Zone" (EEZ) within the territory of the East China Sea. Is there an agreement as to what the boundaries of the EEZ really are? No.

Because the United Nations' "Convention on the Law of the Sea" says an EEZ can extend up to 200 nautical miles from any country's shoreline this creates another problem for the relationship between China and Japan. In reality there are only 360 nautical miles between China and Japan and so there is a big issue just in that definition of territorial rights (Beinformed). That is, Japan claims (because there are only 360 nautical miles between the two nations) the boundary should be "…the median line between the two countries" (Beinformed). China, on the other hand, claims the EEZ should extend "…to the edge of its continental shelf" and that would put the line dividing territories "…almost up against Japan's shores" which of course Japan finds totally unacceptable.

As to the natural gas that has been discovered near the disputed Islands, Reuters published an article in 2010 explaining that the natural gas trough basic "…holds nearly 17.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas" (Beinformed). This survey quoted by Reuters (which in turn was quoted by Beinformed) also conducted by China, claims that the area around the Islands could hold up to "20 million barrels of oil," and if that prediction turns out to be true, it could supply energy-hungry China with enormous reserves. There was an attempt by both nations to reach a compromise and "…explore the area together as a joint venture," but like all attempts that Japan and China have made to cooperate, this one fizzled out too (Beinformed).

The writer for Beinformed, "Gauri," asserts at the end of the article that if the two countries can "…keep aside their egos (often mistakenly referred to as nationalistic pride) and work with each other" they would be better off. In conclusion, "Gauri" writes that is it time "…to rise above the juvenile diplomatic temper tantrums and unnecessary military provocations" and reach a deal on sharing resources in the area around the Senkaku Islands (Beinformed).

In conclusion, it is clear from the literature that Japan and China are not going to allow this dispute to interfere with their strategic and economic relationship. The world would be shaking and terrified if those two countries decided to go to war over this dispute, but it appears that is not… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands Dispute.  (2012, August 5).  Retrieved August 18, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/senkaku-diaoyu-islands-dispute/1115667

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"Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands Dispute."  Essaytown.com.  August 5, 2012.  Accessed August 18, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/senkaku-diaoyu-islands-dispute/1115667.