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2011年1月15日 (土)

尖閣諸島の日 中国に負けない対外発信力を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 15, 2011)
Make Japan's voice heard over Senkakus
尖閣諸島の日 中国に負けない対外発信力を(1月14日付・読売社説)

The city government of Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture, has designated Jan. 14 to commemorate the integration of the Senkaku Islands into Japanese territory.

The date was chosen because the government decided on Jan. 14, 1895, to formally incorporate the islands into Okinawa Prefecture.
The Ishigaki government made the designation in an ordinance enacted late last year.

The government in the late 19th century spent more than 10 years confirming through surveys that the Senkaku Islands were not under the jurisdiction of any particular country.

The Qing Dynasty of China (1644-1912) did not object to this finding.

When the islands were placed under the administration of the United States in accordance with the San Francisco Peace Treaty that came into effect in 1952, China and Taiwan raised no questions.

A map and an article carried on a bulletin of the Chinese Communist Party even indicated that China recognized the islands were Japanese territory.


Restraint drowned out

It was in 1970--75 years after Japan formally incorporated the Senkaku Islands into its territory--that China began claiming ownership of the islets.
Beijing only started seeking their possession after learning there could be oil reserves under the seabed in nearby waters.

It is evident that the Senkaku Islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory, both historically and under international law.

For this reason, the government's position has been that there is no "territorial dispute" between Tokyo and Beijing over the islands.

The government has consistently been restrained when refuting China's assertions over the islands. This response is aimed at defusing China's attempts to whip up the issue of the islands' sovereignty.

However, China recently has been very vocal in claiming sovereignty over the Senkakus on the Internet and in overseas TV broadcasts. It even dragged up ancient maps dating back to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) to try to back up its claims.

A private anti-Japan organization in Hong Kong has even established a network of ethnic Chinese groups around the world to trumpet Beijing's position.

After a Chinese fishing boat rammed two Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels near the Senkaku Islands in September, some news media in the United States and Europe issued reports that seemed to side with China.

We wonder if the government's constant trotting out of the "There is no territorial dispute" line could be playing into China's hands, as that country seems to be winning the contest in making its voice heard around the world.


Spread the word

The Foreign Ministry Web site details the background of the islands and Japan's basic view on their sovereignty. These explanations are provided in English and Chinese.

The Web site also carries descriptions of Japan's position on Takeshima--islets in the Sea of Japan over whose sovereignty Japan disputes with South Korea--in nine languages.

We think the ministry should present information about the Senkaku Islands in more languages.

The Shimane prefectural government launched "Takeshima Day" in 2005. However, we think the central government should take the lead in enlightening the public--both at home and abroad--over territorial issues, rather than just leaving this in the hands of local governments.

Meanwhile, the government needs to make greater effort in working out international rules for easing tensions in disputed waters.

It will be a problem if there is a spate of such dangerous incidents as a foreign fishing boat ramming Japan's patrol vessels as it attempts to flee after being discovered fishing illegally.

This is not limited to bilateral cases between Japan and China.

Japan should seek to put such rules in place by proactively using multilateral frameworks, such as the East Asia Summit meeting.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 14, 2011)
(2011年1月14日01時37分  読売新聞)


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