Sir, Your report “China and South Korea clash with Japan over disputed islands” (August 1) failed to explain clearly Japan’s position on the Senkaku Islands and on Takeshima and could cause misunderstanding among readers.
The Senkaku Islands are clearly an inherent territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law. They are under Japan’s valid control. There exists no territorial issue to be resolved concerning the islands.
From 1885 on, surveys of the Senkaku Islands were thoroughly conducted by the government of Japan. Through these surveys, we confirmed that the islands had been uninhabited and showed no trace of having been under the control of the Qing Dynasty of China. Based on this, Japan made a cabinet decision on January 14 1895 formally to incorporate the islands into its territory.
Since then, the Senkaku Islands have continuously remained as an integral part of Japan’s territories. They were not included in the territories that were ceded to Japan from the Qing Dynasty of China in accordance with the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which came into effect in May 1895. The Senkaku Islands had been placed under the US administration as part of the Nansei Shoto Islands after the second world war, but territorial sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands remained with Japan during that period.
It was not until 1970, when moves to develop petroleum resources on the continental shelf of the East China Sea came to the surface that the government of China and Taiwanese authorities began to raise questions regarding the Senkaku Islands. There had been no objection expressed by any country to Japan’s valid control of the Senkaku Islands until then.
On Takeshima, you quoted only the South Korean nationalists’ views of Japan’s claim to the islands as a “legacy of the imperial expansion” and an “unjust claim”. Let me make clear that it is rather unfair and incorrect to consider our stance over Takeshima as a “legacy of the imperial expansion”.
Japan established sovereignty over Takeshima by the mid 17th century. In 1905, our government specified, with a cabinet decision, that the islands came under the jurisdiction of the Oki Islands branch office of the Shimane prefectural government – to reaffirm Japan’s intention to claim sovereignty over Takeshima. On the other hand, there is no evidence that Korea had control over Takeshima before the establishment of Japan’s territorial sovereignty.
On the drafting of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, South Korea submitted to the US a letter that contained requests to include Takeshima in the territories that Japan should renounce, but the US government declined the request. Also, Takeshima was designated as a bombing range for the US forces stationed in Japan in 1952. Thus, in light of historical facts and based on international law, Takeshima is an inherent Japanese territory. Nevertheless, in 1952, South Korea unilaterally installed the so-called “Syngman Rhee line” in contravention of international law, encompassing Takeshima. The Koreans have been undertaking illegal occupation of Takeshima since then.