DIAOYUTAI ISLANDS FACT SHEET
- The Diaoyutai Islands are a group of eight uninhabited islands located
120 miles northeast of Taiwan on the continental shelf and are separated from
the Liu Chiu Islands (Ryukyu Islands, also known as Okinawa) by a deep
underwater trench (over 1000 meters deep). Chinese historical records
detailing the discovery and geographical features of these islands date back to
the year 1403. For several centuries they have been administered as part of
Taiwan and have always been used exclusively by Chinese fishermen as an
operational base, both before and after World War II.
- In 1874, Japan took Liu Chiu Islands from China by force. Diaoyutai,
however, remained under the administration Taiwan, a part of China.
- Taiwan (including Diaoyutai) was ceded to Japan in 1895 after the first
Sino-Japanese War, and was returned to China at the end of World War II in 1945
based upon the 1943 agreement of the Big Three in Cairo. Diaoyutai as part of
the Taiwan hence was included in that package. But in 1945, the United States
kept that group of small islets for occasional bombing practice targets,
largely for its Liu Chiu based Air Force.
- After 1968 when large deposit of oil and natural gas were discovered in
that region, Japan claimed that the Diaoyutai Islands are part of Liu Chiu. In
1969 when the Okinawa Reversion Treaty was signed between the US and Japan, it
included the Diaoyutai Islands. Since then Japan insists repeatedly that the
islet group is part of Japan's territory.
- This development enraged Chinese people all over the world. At that time
the Nationalist government in Taipei also communicated to Washington about this
mistake. Chinese students in the United States protested through
demonstrations and marches in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles,
Seattle, San Francisco, and Honolulu. Meanwhile, they sent letters to
President Nixon and the 92nd Congress to explain this mistake[a].
- As the result of all these, the United States Senate Foreign Relations
Committee stated on the eve of returning Liu Chiu to Japan's control that the
United States "in transferring its rights of administration to Japan does
not specifically constitute a transfer of underlying sovereignty nor can it
affect the underlying claims of any of the disputants." [b] Here, what the
US did was "transferring the rights of administration" of Liu Chiu
and Diaoyutai, not their sovereignty.
- At this juncture, Chinese government in Beijing formally declared that
Diaoyutai islet group is an integral part of Chinese territory. But the
Japanese government in Tokyo insisted that the islet group is a part of Liu
Chiu, therefore, a part of Japan's territory. Such a claim is even against its
own map and administration divisions before 1945.
- Since Liu Chiu reversed to Japan's administration in 1972, the Japanese
government constantly send its naval forces, called Maritime Security Forces,
to eject Chinese fishermen from the area. In fact, for centuries a substantial
number of Chinese fishermen from Taiwan made their living largely depending on
their catches in the area.
- In the same period, Japanese "naval force" mutilated the Nationalist
Chinese flag on the islet and repelled Chinese boat full of athletes from
Taiwan who intended to plant an Olympic torch on the Diaoyutai rock.
- These quasi-military actions are diametrically against the spirit of
Article IX of the Japanese Constitution.
- Since 1972, Japan attempted to build a heliport on the main islet of
Diaoyutai, and encouraged a right-wing group to build a lighthouse on
another islet in the group. After Chinese strong protests the Japanese
government softened down somewhat. But recently, Tokyo again allowed the right
wing group to erect another lighthouse and repeatedly using military force to
repel the approaching Chinese fishing boats and other members from Taiwan and
Hong Kong. At the same time, Japanese Foreign Minister sternly claims that the
Diaoyutai islet group is Japanese territory.
- This bullish approach to such kind of a black and white negotiable issue
aroused the rage of the Chinese people all over the world. Such outrageous
behavior also reminds all the Chinese victimized by the Japanese aggressions in
modern history clearly as an indication the possible revival of a new wave of
Japanese Militarism in East Asia of which we are all obligated to prevent.
[a] page E7, May 23, 1971, New York
[b] Congressional Record, November 9, 1971, Proceedings and Debates
of the 92nd Congress, First Session.