AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Coming attractions

Posted by ampontan on Friday, September 24, 2010

The build-up of Chinese military capabilities is a real threat.
- Maehara Seiji, the new Foreign Minister of Japan, speaking in the United States in 2005

In ancient Chinese history, the First Emperor sent his adviser Xu Fu (徐福, Jofuku in Japanese) across the sea to what is now Japan to seek out the elixir of immortality. The account records that he was accompanied by many young men and women. Some Chinese believe that the Japanese are descendants of these early travelers. Does this give China a territorial claim over Japan? Of course not.
- Paul Lin, Taipei Times 19 September 2010

FOR THOSE with the eyes to see, China is offering the world a preview of its behavior when it finally assumes the role of Great Power. The screening started when the Japanese arrested Zhan Qixiong, captain of the Chinese fishing boat Minjinyu 5179, in Japanese waters 12 kilometers northwest of Kubashima. That was near one of the Senkaku islets, which the Chinese decided a few years ago was actually theirs after centuries of ignoring them. He was released today without being formally charged, though he could have been held a few more days before Japanese law required a decision.

One of the Senkaku islets

The Japanese suspected illegal fishing, having caught the Chinese with their pants down, so to speak—their fishing tackle was unfurled—so they hailed the boat to stop for boarding and inspection. The Chinese fishermen usually quit the scene when confronted, but this time someone cued up the theme song to Cops: Captain Zhan zipped up, rammed one of the Coast Guard vessels (the Mizuki), and then hightailed it. During the two-hour chase, he also rammed the other Coast Guard ship.

Try that on a highway after being motioned to pull over by an officer in a patrol car and watch what happens.

What happened here is that the Japanese decided to detain the captain before deciding whether or not to formally charge him. After a few days, they sent the Minjinyu 5179 back to China with the 14 crewmen, none of whom were arrested, but one or more of whom might have been CCP members egging on the skipper. They also found some fish.

The subsequent behavior of the Chinese and Japanese could not present a clearer contrast. The Japanese have been a model of calm discretion, while the Chinese government has responded with volleys of cloddish intimidation and ham-handed irredentism that reverberate with echoes of a less sophisticated age. The bluster puts one in mind of the more restrained North Korean propaganda, with hints of a mustachioed Mitteleuropa paperhanger demanding the return of the Sudetenland. It’s all the more revealing because they’re bullying a year-old Japanese government that long ago declared its intention to develop closer ties with them while tilting away from the United States. Perhaps that aggression is to be expected when one’s military budget has quadrupled over the past decade and one is facing a technically pacifist country with only 10% of the military personnel. The urge arises to start kicking sand in other people’s faces just because one can get away with it.

The recently appointed Japanese foreign minister, Maehara Seiji, is portrayed by some as a “hawk” because he favors amending the Japanese Constitution to permit national self-defense. This hawk is carrying an olive branch in its talons, however. He says the incident will be handled in accordance with the rule of law while emphasizing that “there is no territorial dispute in the region”. At the United Nations this week, he said, “(China) is an important neighbor. We must create a solid, strategic reciprocal relationship.”

While inspecting the damage to one of the Japanese ships last weekend, he added this bit of information:

We have a video of the circumstances of the collision, and it’s obvious at a glance who collided with whom.

Here’s a report from NHK, Japan’s quasi-public television network, using a computer-generated representation rather than the video itself. If you don’t understand Japanese, fast forward to the 1:20 mark; the Japanese ship is shown sailing ahead of the Chinese fishing vessel and to its port side when the Minjinyu 5179 suddenly veers left and smacks into it. (The Japanese Coast Guard is keeping the video under wraps and is not allowing copies to be made.) The announcer says the Chinese ship approached from the rear and turned the rudder sharply to hit the Japanese ship.

The Japanese government was able to hold its ground because it completely understands the motivations for the Chinese behavior, both in general and in this particular instance.

Being neighbors of the Chinese, they’ve understood for centuries that China has never seen itself as one nation among others in a cooperative relationship of mutual benefit. China refers to itself as the “flower in the center of the world”, and with their recent reblossoming they are reasserting the suzerainty they created in the region centuries ago. Not only do they consider the Western Pacific a Chinese sea, they’ve also expanded their reach into the Indian Ocean and are eyeing the other oceans of the world:

Now, one of China’s most prominent policy intellectuals is advocating for the creation of overseas bases. Shen Dingli, a professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, asserts that “it is wrong for us [China] to believe that we have no right to set up bases abroad.” He argues that it is not terrorism or piracy that’s the real threat to China. It’s the ability of other states to block China’s trade routes that poses the greatest threat. …As China emerges as a major global power, it will expand its military footprint across the globe, much like that other great power, the US, whose bases surround China. The rapid expansion of China’s naval capabilities and broader military profile is a classic manifestation of its great power status. China’s new naval strategy of “far sea defense” is aimed at giving Beijing the ability to project its power in key oceanic areas, including and most significantly the Indian Ocean.

The Japanese also know that the Chinese now have access to a port on the Sea of Japan, thanks to an arrangement with their closest ally—North Korea:

China has gained direct access to the Sea of Japan for the first time in 100 years through a North Korean port, leaving the other two regional players, Japan and South Korea, deeply concerned about the communist state’s ambitions.

China made an agreement to lease a pier at North Korea’s Rajin Port for 10 years…The North Korean port city is considered a hub that will help forays into the Pacific region from China’s north-east.

Mikyoung Kim, a North Korea expert at the Hiroshima Peace Institute in Japan, said… “It is possible that China’s lease of the North Korean territory [the port] can be extended over the 10 years into a long-term deal. That can complicate the South’s effort for reunification. The South cannot just sit and watch”…She said she suspects China has a long-term goal. “China has been pursuing the North-east Project, a territorially ambitious project. In case of contingency in North Korea through an upheaval there, China may claim the leased territory as its own.”

Despite Chinese security analysts’ downplaying the matter, some outside analysts view the deal as ultimately part of China’s rising world power ambition, a view China strongly denies.

“Although China is a big country, many of its key areas are landlocked. Other powerful countries in the world don’t have the difficulty of entering the sea China faces,” said Global Times newspaper (of China). “The US directly faces two oceans in its east and west. Russia has a big part of its territory that is coastal. Japan is an island country by itself. India is a peninsula,” it said.

China’s oceanic coastline is approximately 18,000 km long (11,185 miles), extending from the Bohai Gulf to the South China Sea. (The former freezes in the winter.)

The Japanese know better than anyone else that the Chinese conducted its most aggressive show of naval strength ever in the Western Pacific earlier this year. They sent warships twice through the waters of Okinawa Prefecture in an attempt to intimidate Japan while the flotilla headed south to confront Vietnamese dealing with other Chinese fishing vessels in the Spratly Islands:

The news from Tokyo on 10 April 2010 that the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force had monitored ten Chinese warships passing 140km south of Okinawa through the Miyako Strait marked a new stage in China’s naval development. The deployment was of unprecedented size and scope for the Chinese navy, and was the second such operation mounted by China in rapid succession: in March, a smaller flotilla had been deployed on exercises. The two sets of exercises, along with Chinese counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, demonstrate the flexibility of China’s naval forces and their greater prominence in Beijing’s strategic calculations…

Also:

The ships conducted numerous live-fire exercises, as well as confrontation drills with elements of the South Sea Fleet. The PLA report said the fleet visited Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands, as well as conducting further exercises near the Malacca Strait between Malaysia and Indonesia. The deployment and exercises were a clear message of the willingness of the PLA Navy to assert Chinese power in the region.

The Chinese may be testing the resolve of the new Japanese government, particularly because the latter is having difficulties with the Americans over their military presence. The Japanese government also remembers how the Chinese tested the new Bush administration in 2001:

Analysts from Jane’s Defense say that two Chinese F8 fighter planes “hemmed in” the larger, slower EP-3 in an attempt to make it change course, and thereby caused the collision; one source reports that one of the Chinese fighters was actually flying directly underneath the EP-3….The aggressive and dangerous behavior of the Chinese pilots is later confirmed by the account of the collision by the pilot of the EP-3, Lieutenant Shane Osborn, who says, “He was harassing us.…The third time he hit us, is that an accident? I don’t know. Do I think he meant to hit us? No. I don’t think he meant to have his plane cut in two and go under the ocean. But his actions were definitely threatening my crew in a very serious manner and we all saw what happened.”

The Japanese are also aware the Chinese themselves have no problem arresting fishermen they think are infringing on their territory. The Chinese fisheries department seized nine Vietnamese fishermen on 22 March this year near the Paracels:

The Vietnamese Coast Guard warned and chased away at least 130 Chinese fishing boats that were found illegally fishing in Vietnamese waters off the central coast on January 29.

The naval unit based in Da Nang confirmed the news last Friday, adding that the fishing boats had been organized in groups.

Coast Guard vessels first apprehended 100 boats just 45 nautical miles off Thua Thien Hue.

Four days later they found the other 30 deep in Vietnamese waters off Da Nang and Thua Thien Hue.

Earlier last year China seized 17 Vietnamese fishing boats and arrested 210 fishermen for straying into its waters before later releasing all the men and 13 boats.

It has not escaped Japanese attention that Chinese aggression is limited to those countries it considers unlikely to resort to military retaliation. They are more restrained when dealing with other nation-state thuggery. For example, when the Russian Navy fired on and sank the Chinese cargo ship New Star in February this year, killing eight Chinese sailors, the Chinese response was rather subdued in comparison to the behavior after the arrest of the fishing boat captain in the Senkakus:

Zhang Xiyun, director-general for the Foreign Ministry’s Department of European-Central Asian Affairs, said, “The attitude of the Russian foreign ministry is hard to understand and unacceptable.”

Vice Foreign Minister Li Hui told Russia’s ambassador: “The Chinese side expresses shock and deep concern over this incident, We call on the Russian side to begin with a humanitarian spirit… and continue to make all efforts to find the missing personnel.”

The Chinese summoned the Russian ambassador to complain once about eight Chinese deaths. They’ve already summoned the Japanese ambassador six times over the arrest of one man, once in the middle of the night on the weekend. But then mobsters are more likely to push around law-abiding citizens; they tend to pick their fights with rival hoodlums more carefully.

Most important of all, the Japanese government understands that the Senkakus have been internationally recognized as Japanese territory for more than a century—including by the Chinese themselves.

The History

The Senkakus are a group of eight uninhabited islets with an aggregate area of 1,700 acres, slightly more than twice the size of New York City’s Central Park. They are 106 miles north of Ishigaki, Japan (and are part of its municipal district); 116 miles northeast of Keelung, Taiwan; and 255 miles west of Okinawa Island.

The red dots on the top row l-r are Shanghai and Kagoshima City. On the second row they are Taipei, Ishigaki, and Naha. The Senkakus are in the box.

The first recorded mention of the islets was in 1534 in Chen Kan’s Records of the Imperial Mission to Ryukyu. Chen, an envoy of the Ming Dynasty emperor to the Ryukyus, described his trip from China to Naha, as well as the customs of the native Okinawans. In his and several other accounts over the next two centuries, the islets were mentioned merely as geographic landmarks. The Chinese never indicated they considered them their territory, or anything more than specks in the ocean.

The first Japanese mention is in the Chuzan Seikan (Mirror of Chuzan), i.e., records of the Ryukyu Dynasty, which dates from 1650. As in the Chinese records, there is no indication they were considered anyone’s territory.

Fukuoka native Koga Tatsuhiro was making a living in Naha, Okinawa, catching and exporting finfish and shellfish when he discovered in 1884 that the islets were the habitat of the rare short-tailed albatross. He started collecting albatross feathers for sale in addition conducting to his fishing business. Ten years later, he applied to the government of Okinawa Prefecture to lease the islands. They turned him down because they weren’t sure who the islands belonged to. Koga then applied to the interior and agriculture ministries in Tokyo, and they turned him down for the same reason.

That did bring the islets to the attention of the Japanese government, however, and Koga’s persistence paid off. The Japanese claimed the islands under the legal principle of terra nullius—any nation can claim as its own, territory that is unclaimed by any other nation—and it became part of Japan. The Senkakus were uninhabited and unclaimed—indeed, they had never been administered at any time by the Chinese government, and there is no record of any Chinese ever living or working there.

The Chinese later charged the Japanese swiped the islets at the same time they wound up with the booty of Taiwan and the Penghu Islands at the end of the 1894-1895 Sino-Japanese War.

The Japanese Communist Party, nationalist scalawags that they are, addresses those claims on their website:

The Senkaku Islands question has nothing to do with the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95. The Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty to conclude the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 decided to cede Taiwan and the Penghu Islands to Japan. This was Japan’s territorial expansion, which can never be justified. But every historical document tells us that the Senkaku Islands question was dealt with separately from the Taiwan and Penghu Islands question. In the negotiations on the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty, the question of title to the Senkaku Islands was not taken up.

The JCP, by the way, also complained that the U.S. military used the islets for target practice.

In addition to albatross feathers, the islets for a time became a center for the production of katsuobushi, or dried bonito flakes, which are often used in Japanese cuisine. Koga finally relinquished the business in 1940, however, when more inexpensive sources were found. Other than that, the islets were ignored. The next noteworthy mention of them comes in 1920. That year, the Japanese rescued 31 Chinese fishermen who were shipwrecked on one of the smaller islets. The Chinese consul in Nagasaki wrote a letter of gratitude to the Japanese thanking them for their help. In the body of the letter, he referred to them by the Japanese term Senkaku islets (尖閣列島) instead of the Chinese name, Daiyutai (釣魚島). In other words, the Chinese considered them Japanese territory in 1920.

You can see for yourself. That document still exists, and here is a reproduction. The name is in the fourth column from the right:

The government of China claimed other islands in the South China Sea in 1932 and 1935, some of which were under the control of the French and the Japanese. The People’s Republic claimed them again in 1949. Despite their insistence that other islands in Japanese possession were theirs in 1935, the Chinese said nothing about the Senkakus.

There matters stood until the end of the Second World War in the Pacific. Under the Treaty of Peace with Japan (AKA The San Francisco Treaty), which went into force on 28 April 1952, the Japanese disposed of all the territory they conquered over the years to create their empire. Some of that territory was Chinese:

Article 2 (b)
Japan renounces all right, title and claim to Formosa and the Pescadores.
Article 2 (f)
Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Spratly Islands and to the Paracel Islands.

The treaty gave the United States the right to continue to administer part of Japan after the Allied occupation ended:

Article 3
Japan will concur in any proposal of the United States to the United Nations to place under its trusteeship system, with the United States as the sole administering authority, Nansei Shoto south of 29 deg. north latitude (including the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands), Nanpo Shoto south of Sofu Gan (including the Bonin Islands, Rosario Island and the Volcano Islands) and Parece Vela and Marcus Island. Pending the making of such a proposal and affirmative action thereon, the United States will have the right to exercise all and any powers of administration, legislation and jurisdiction over the territory and inhabitants of these islands, including their territorial waters.

The Senkakus were considered part of the Nansei Shoto, as a U.S. State Department official later explicitly stated:

“The term “Nansei Shoto” was understood to mean all islands [south of 29 degrees north latitude] under Japanese administration at the end of the war … The term, as used in the treaty, was intended to include the Senkaku Islands.” (Suganuma Unryu, Sovereign Rights and Territorial Space in Sino-Japanese Relations, p. 134)

In fact, though several island groups are mentioned, most of the territory here was—and still is—a single administrative unit: Okinawa Prefecture (state/province). In short, everything cited in Article 3 of the treaty is just as much Japan as is The Ginza in Tokyo. (The Nanpo Shoto lie to the east and are part of the Tokyo Metro District.) Uninhabited islands are part of the territory of most maritime nations; not all of the 5,000 islands that are part of China are inhabited either.

The Americans administered the rest of Okinawa until they returned the prefecture to Japanese control under the 17 June 1971 Agreement between Japan and the United States of America Concerning the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands:

Article I
1. With respect to the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands, as defined in paragraph 2 below, the United States of America relinquishes in favor of Japan all rights and interests under Article 3 of the Treaty of Peace with Japan signed at the city of San Francisco on September 8, 1951, effective as of the date of entry into force of this Agreement. Japan, as of such date, assumes full responsibility and authority for the exercise of all and any powers of administration, legislation and jurisdiction over the territory and inhabitants of the said islands.

2. For the purpose of this Agreement, the term “the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands” means all the territories and their territorial waters with respect to which the right to exercise all and any powers of administration, legislation and jurisdiction was accorded to the United States of America under Article 3 of the Treaty of Peace with Japan other than those with respect to which such right has already been returned to Japan in accordance with the Agreement concerning the Amami Islands and the Agreement concerning Nanpo Shoto and Other Islands signed between Japan and the United States of America, respectively on December 24, 1953 and April 5, 1968.

Neither Taiwan nor the People’s Republic of China were signatories to the San Francisco Treaty, but neither objected to the inclusion of the Senkakus at the time. That’s because they considered them to be part of Japan. To be specific:

8 January 1953: Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) published an article titled “The Ryukyu Islanders’ Struggle against American Occupation” (i.e., Okinawa). The article mentioned the Senkakus, used that name, and stated they were part of the Ryukyus. Here’s a post from Michael Turton’s fine blog, The View from Taiwan, with more more detail on the article.

November 1958: A Beijing company published a map of the world showing the Senkakus as Japanese territory and using the Japanese name.

October 1965: The Research Institute for Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense published a series of world maps. It showed the islets as part of Japanese territory and used the Japanese name Senkakus. Here is a color reproduction of the map itself on a Taiwanese website. The poster worries about how the map would affect the Taiwanese claim. Scroll down to see the magical mystery change on the map for the 1972 edition.

6 October 1968: The Taiwanese newspaper Lianhebao (United Daily News) published an article explaining that Taiwanese fishermen were prohibited from fishing in the Senkakus. They used the Japanese name.

12 October – 29 November 1968: Maritime specialists from Taiwan and South Korea conducted sea floor surveys of the East China Sea with the cooperation of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE), the regional arm of the United Nations Secretariat for the Asian and Pacific region. The report stated there was a possibility of large quantities of oil and natural gas under the seabed. It was later confirmed that there are at least 92 million bbl of oil available, with estimates of up to 100 billion bbl of oil, roughly equivalent to the 112.4 billion bbl of Iraq.

May 1969: The government of Taiwan provided oil exploration rights to Gulf, planted the Taiwanese flag on the Senkakus, and notified the world’s wire services of its action.

January 1970: The Taiwan government published a geography textbook for junior high school students that called the islands the Senkakus and treated them as Japanese territory. The following is a copy of the key part of the map. (Refer to the respective Chinese characters for the name of the islets above):

September 1970: The Okinawan police sent a ship to the Senkakus, removed the Taiwanese flag, and gave it to the Americans.

11 June 1971: The Taiwanese government claimed the islands as their own territory for the first time. Less than one week later:

17 June 1971: The treaty returning Okinawa to Japan from American control was signed.

30 December 1971: The People’s Republic of China claimed the islands as their own territory for the first time.

In 1992, China adopted legislation that authorized the use of force to enforce Chinese claims to the islets.

The Chinese and Taiwanese change of mind was followed by a few decades of posturing by the Chinese, low-profiling it by the Japanese, and occasional forays by small boatloads of buckos from China, Taiwan and Japan planting flags on the islets. In 1996, a group Japanese put up an aluminum lighthouse. The Chinese excitables stepped up their activity in 2004, which prompted Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to make a clear statement of American policy about the islands. Here’s how the Asahi Shimbun described it on 2 February 2004:

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage made the following comments at a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo Feb. 2 with reference to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty: “That treaty would require any attack on Japan, or the administrative territories under Japanese control, to be seen as an attack on the United States.”

The statement simply reiterated the contents of Article 5 of the treaty and is nothing new. However, an expert on East Asian affairs at the U.S. State Department noted that Armitage used the phrase administrative territories under Japanese control instead of simply saying Japan or Japanese territory and pointed out that it connotes the Senkaku islands (Chinese name Diaoyu islands) whose ownership is disputed between Japan and China.

The State Department official added that Armitage’s statement amends the ambiguous stance of a past U.S. administration over the issue, meaning the neutral position of the Clinton administration, which implied that the United States is not necessarily obliged under the bilateral security treaty to oversee the defense of the Senkaku islands.

One month after Mr. Armitage spoke in Tokyo, the BBC ran an article on Chinese swashbuckling on the Senkakus. They noted:

China and Taiwan both laid claim to the Senkaku Islands in the 1970s after oil deposits were found nearby.

They were declared Japanese territory in 1895 and fall under the jurisdiction of Japan’s southern Okinawa prefecture.

The responses this month: A comparison

Japan

From Shikata Noriyuki, a spokesman for the Japanese prime minister’s office:

Regarding individual issues, what is needed is to respond calmly without becoming emotional.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku Yoshito called for calm and warned about extreme nationalism on both sides. Japan is the country least affected by nationalism in Northeast Asia; his inclusion of Japan in the warning of about extreme nationalism is to prevent any incidents the Chinese can use for a pretext.

The political opposition is firm, sometimes critical of the government, but always responsible. LDP Secretary-General Ishihara Nobuteru thinks the government’s response is insufficient, but then offers the Japanese political consensus: “Since there is no territorial problem, let the courts handle it quietly.” Former Defense Minister Koike Yuriko thinks the Chinese behavior highlights the worst aspect of the security treaty with the U.S.: It makes other countries think the Japanese can be easily steamrolled. The Japanese left was hysterical with their fantasies of an Abe Shinzo foreign policy when he was prime minister, but he too was subdued. He merely pointed out that Japan has to maintain its resolve because the next Chinese step “can only be economic sanctions”.

All of the above statements are representative of the tone in the media, from what I’ve seen.

Your Party Secretary-General Eda Kenji might well have encapsulated the sentiments of the general public in a blog post:

There’s no need to respond to every one of the childish retaliatory measures of the Chinese. That’s the sort of nation China is. They don’t realize just how much they lower their standing in the international community, and besides, they’re still just a developing country.

That last one cuts deeper in Japanese than it does in English.

Saber-rattling? The Defense Ministry announced that it’s mulling an increase in the size of the self-defense forces by 13,000 troops from 155,000 to 168,000, the first rise since 1972. They cite conditions in East Asia and the terrorist threat as their reason.

The United States

We’ve seen that six years ago, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage specifically used language to include the Senkakus as Japanese territory the Americans would defend. In Tokyo recently, he said he thinks China is taking advantage of a “chill” in Japan-U.S. relations, and that Beijing is “testing what they can get away with.”

He also said he thought the incident and the Chinese reaction should be a “warning” to other Asian countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei about Chinese behavior in territorial disputes.

While the Bush administration stood up for the Japanese through Mr. Armitage, the Obama administration, in keeping with their attitude toward allies, sat right back down.

Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg now says the American position is “as it was before”, and that they won’t support either side. When “before” was, he didn’t say.

Mr. Steinberg, by the way, coined the phrase “strategic reassurance” to describe U.S.-China relations. That means the United States should reassure China that they will welcome China’s new status, and China should reassure the US and its Asian neighbors that it would not conflict with their interests.

So much for Steinbergian strategic reassurance.

The American Defense Department is more sanguine, however. Though few noticed, the Sasebo-based minesweeper Defender called on the Port of Hirara in Miyakojima, Okinawa, this week. It is only the third time since 1972 an American naval vessel called on a civilian port on a friendly visit and the first ever for Hirara. The port is in the southern part of the Ryukyus 400 miles from Taipei and 110 miles from Naha. Play around with the map at this site to get an idea of the location. The white specks to the northeast of Taiwan are the Senkakus.

The Governor of Okinawa was unhappy about the visit because the American navy is supposed to enter civilian ports only in case of an emergency. About 40 people showed up to demonstrate, mostly from labor unions.

Meanwhile, at a Pentagon news conference, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said:

“Obviously we’re very, very strongly in support of … our ally in that region, Japan.”

Added Defense Secretary Robert Gates: “We would fulfill our alliance responsibilities.”

China, in word and deed

Deeds

Since the Japanese seized Capt. Zhan, here’s what the Chinese have done:

  • Summoned Japanese Ambassador Niwa Uichiro six times to complain, once in the middle of the night
  • Ended all contact with the Japanese government at the ministerial level and above. There will not be a summit at the UN between Prime Minister Kan Naoto and Premier Wen Jibao.
  • Sent a Ministry of Agriculture “fishing observation vessel” to the area near the Senkakus. These ships are often armed and have been active in the South China Sea to back up Chinese claims in that area.
  • Suspended negotiations on joint development of the gas fields in the East China Sea
  • Suspended discussions for increasing air travel between the two countries
  • Suspended discussions about coal shipments from China to Japan
  • Suspended corporate exchanges
  • Chinese customs officials stopped shipments of rare earth elements to Japan by preventing them from being loaded aboard ships at Chinese ports, according to three industry sources. Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Chen Rongkai denied it, but the sources (one of whom was Australian) said Chinese customs notified companies they couldn’t ship rare earth oxides, salts, or pure rare earth metals. Ordinarily, the Japanese could file a complaint with the World Trade Organization, but that will be difficult because the Chinese handled the matter administratively rather than through direct government order.

The Chinese might find this step to be counterproductive. The American House of Representatives is discussing this week legislation to subsidize the reopening of rare earth mines in the U.S.

  • Fined Toyota Motor Corp.’s finance unit for bribing car dealers, a charge Toyota denies
  • Sent equipment to the Chunxiao gas field (Shirakaba in Japanese), according to Japanese sources, apparently to begin drilling. Said Foreign Minister Maehara: “If it has been confirmed with proof, we will take the measures that should be taken.” That would include taking the case to the international maritime court.
  • Postponed the planned five-day trip of Li Jianguo, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, to Japan at the invitation of the Japanese lower house of the Diet.
  • Cancelled permission for 1,000 members of a Japanese youth exchange group to visit the Shanghai World’s Fair

Cutting off their nose to spite their face #1

  • The Chinese arrested four Japanese and one Chinese working for Fujita Corp, a construction company. They are charged with violating Chinese law regarding the protection of military facilities. Chinese authorities said they entered a military zone without authorization and were illegally filming military targets.

    A Fujita spokesman said the employees were in China for a project to dispose of chemical weapons abandoned by the Japanese military at the end of World War Two. Japan has been helping China dispose of the weapons as a gesture to improve bilateral relations. Kyodo reported the men were preparing a bid on the project.

Cutting off their nose to spite their face #2

Words: The government

Dai Bingguo

State Councilor Dai Bingguo summoned Niwa Uichiro at midnight on a Sunday to tell Japan to make a “wise political resolution” by releasing the fishing boat and its crew detained in disputed waters six days ago, and “expressed the Chinese government’s grave concerns”.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu

This incident was incited by Japan. Now they add error to error and escalate the problem.

And:

China is firmly opposed to any kind of investigation by the Japanese side on the illegally detained Chinese trawler…unconditional and immediate release of the detained Chinese citizens was the only way to settle the dispute. Japan will reap as it has sown, if it continues to act recklessly.

And:

The Diaoyu islands are China’s inseparable territory and the Japanese side applying domestic law to Chinese fishing boats operating in this area is absurd, illegal and invalid, and China will never accept that.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu

When the Japanese extended the detention of the ship captain, Ma said it was “illegal and invalid.”

And:

We demand the immediate and unconditional release of the Chinese captain. If Japan acts willfully, making mistake after mistake, China will take strong countermeasures, and all the consequences will be borne by the Japanese side.

Premier Wen Jibao

Threatened Japan by saying China will take ”further actions” if Japan does not immediately release the ship captain.

During a 2007 visit to Japan, Mr. Wen pledged to make the East China Sea a “sea of peace, cooperation and friendship.” A few months later, the Japanese Coast Guard and the Chinese State Oceanic Administration set up a hotline.

Academics:

Gao Hong, deputy director at the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences:

The inexperienced government of the Democratic Party of Japan will gradually learn that it is important to maintain a stable and healthy relationship with China.

Zhou Yongsheng, a professor of Japanese studies at China Foreign Affairs University:

(China has) more cards in hand than the Japanese, as their economy is largely dependent on China. China should take strong countermeasures.

Jin Yongming, legal scholar with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and Chinese Maritime Development Research Center, in the 10 September issue of the China Daily:

“Japan infringed upon China’s sovereignty and territory integrity when Japanese patrol ships chased the Chinese fishing trawler and boarded it forcibly. But the Japanese Coast Guard did not stop at that. It even applied Japanese law in the waters off the Diaoyu Islands, which since ancient times have been Chinese territory. Japan had no right to press charges against the Chinese fishermen according to its domestic laws,” said Jin.

“To strengthen its presence around the Diaoyu Islands, the Japanese Coast Guard has been sending patrol ships for some time now and has repeatedly chased Chinese fishing and survey vessels. But such action cannot alter the fact that Diaoyu Islands belong to China. And history vouches for that.”

He also demanded that Japan should apologize and offer the fishermen adequate compensation.

Activists

Li Nan, the China Federation of Defending the Diaoyu Islands

If the Chinese government continues to simply declare the Diaoyu Islands are Chinese territory while avoiding substantive action then I feel the islands are drifting further and further away from us. China should send patrol ships from the PLA Navy, like Japan, and establish (the) Diaoyu Islands as a shooting range.

Print media

The Global Times, an official Chinese newspaper, published a front page article on “severe countermeasures” that could be taken against Japan, including extracting “economic damage”.

It included this passage:

”We should send regular battle-capable fisheries vessels to the Diaoyu area to protect navigation,” said General Peng Guangqian, an analyst at the Chinese Academy of Military Science.

Does not the concept of “battle capable fishery vessels” speak for itself?

Global Times editorial: Finding the Achilles Heel of Japan

Bilateral relations between the two countries have plunged recently due to Japan’s diplomatic recklessness…China’s Japan policy has been based on friendly ties stressing warm public communication since the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two in 1972. But the public emotions of Japanese society toward China have altered significantly recently. It seems that conflicts originating from Japan are continually escalating….It should be apparent by now that China will be forced to endure long-term conflicts with Japan, and emphasizing only friendly relations is not prudent.

China needs to be certain of Japan’s soft spots for clearly targeted reactions. The pain has to be piercing. Japanese politicians need to understand the consequences – votes will be lost, and Japanese companies have to be aware of the loss of business involved. Japanese citizens will feel the burden due to the downturn in the economy. China’s domestic law, business regulations and consumers can all be maneuvered.

There is a lingering question in China: Why do hawkish Japanese politicians who are obviously against China emerge one after another without China provoking Japan?

Suspension of the East China Sea gas field talks, scheduled for mid-September, is the first move of China’s counter strike. Given the decades of relationship building after WWII, China will probably not resort to force over this incident. But, if the protests from the Chinese government and public don’t bring the Japanese back from the brink of a relations breakdown, Beijing has to consider stronger retaliatory measures.

English-language print media

Apart from items that could be found on any police blotter, the English-language news media can no longer be counted on to provide correct information on anything. It’s a bit like shooting dead fish in a barrel, but here are a few examples of their coverage.

Photos

The Japanese have been behaving decorously, so they offer no photo opportunities. The Chinese have been the ones to foam at the mind, so photos the media chooses to run seem designed to create associations with the Second World War, such as this one from AP:

News agencies such as Reuters and outlets such as the New York Times like to include references to “lingering resentments” over the war. Everyone in this part of the world, however, understands that Chinese popular opinion toward the Japanese is cynically manipulated like a spigot by the government to deflect dissatisfaction with the regime. Notice how often the phrase “(the Chinese government) allowed some demonstrations” is used.

The Epoch Times has a worthwhile piece here, pointing out that the demonstrations are stage-managed. The Japanese understand this, and usually wait until the Chinese government calls them off when they begin to worry popular discontent will be transferred to them.

Globe and Mail, Canada

Headline:

Beijing asserts new dominance over waning Tokyo in diplomatic row

That guy in jail—where was he from again?

The dispute over the island chain, which is also claimed by Taiwan, dates to the end of the Second World War.

Possibility #1: The author was too lazy to look it up.

Possibility #2: He believed his Chinese source and was too lazy to confirm it.

The Age, Australia:

Japanese commentators and politicians are responding in kind to China’s increased maritime assertiveness, after China’s rolling conflicts with the United States and south-east Asian nations over control of the South China and Yellow seas. Japan’s Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, said the islands were an ”integral part of Japanese territory”.

Responding in kind?

American screenwriter, novelist, and blogger Roger L. Simon has observed that journalist bloggers at mainstream publications sound so many false notes they’re like white boys trying to sing the blues. Exhibit A is this post at the New York Times by Nicholas Kristof.

Look out—his (or the paper’s) framing of the narrative starts with the headline:

Look Out for the Diaoyu Islands

The Japanese detained the Chinese captain for questioning and the two countries have been exchanging indignant protests.

Readers are hereby invited to send in any examples of indignant protests by anyone in an official capacity in Japan. Good luck finding one.

The other problem is that, technically, the U.S. would be obliged to bail Japan out if there were a fight over the Senkakus. The U.S. doesn’t take a position on who owns the islands, but the Japan-U.S. security treaty specifies that the U.S. will help defend areas that Japan administers. And in 1972, when the U.S. handed Okinawa back to Japan, it agreed that Japan should administer the Senkakus. So we’re in the absurd position of being committed to help Japan fight a war over islands, even though we don’t agree that they are necessarily Japanese.

As you pick out the obvious mistakes in that passage, realize that you already know more about the issue than Kristof, who has two Pulitzer Prizes and has been called “the moral conscience of our generation of journalists…the Indiana Jones of our generation of journalists.”

In reality, of course, there is zero chance that the U.S. will honor its treaty obligation over a few barren rocks. We’re not going to risk a nuclear confrontation with China over some islands that may well be China’s. But if we don’t help, our security relationship with Japan will be stretched to the breaking point.

If the U.S. doesn’t help in the case of a Chinese attack, its security relationship with Japan will cease to exist.

Apart from being the only person to suggest a defense would necessarily be nuclear, Kristof seems to have missed the statements by both Mr. Armitage and Mr. Gates.

Then again, he is talking about the Obama administration.

He also feels his way through the legal issues:

So which country has a better claim to the islands? My feeling is that it’s China, although the answer isn’t clearcut.

He continues:

Chinese navigational records show the islands as Chinese for many centuries, and a 1783 Japanese map shows them as Chinese as well.

Incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial, as we’ve seen.

Kristof’s obviously been talking to Chinese sources without confirming what he heard from Japanese sources. Here’s the 1783 map. The Chinese contend the Senkakus are the same color on the map as the Chinese mainland (red). They are. (They begin at the third island at the vertical line.) But Taiwan is a different color (yellow). The first two islands on the vertical line are also red, but they were at that time (and are today) Taiwanese territory. In any event, the map was rendered by Hayashi Shihei, a retainer of the Date clan in the Sendai domain in the far northeast corner of Japan. He had no relationship with the Ryukyus–which at that time was an independent country–nor did he have the authority to set anyone’s national boundaries.

Note also that because of the different colors used for Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, a Chinese who accepts this map as proof that the Senkakus belong to China must also implicitly accept that Taiwan is independent from China.

Japan purported to “discover” the islands only in 1884 and annexed them only in 1895 when it also grabbed Taiwan.

Guess who whose hired researchers didn’t spend 15 minutes on the web looking anything up.

(You can also make a case that they are terra nullis [sic], belonging to no nation.)

No, you can’t, because that’s the basis by which Japan claimed them. That claim has been recognized by the rest of the world outside of the New York Times headquarters building for the past 115 years—including China for 76 of those years.

As Chinese nationalism grows, as China’s navy and ability to project power in the ocean gains, we could see some military jostling over the islands. You read it here first.

He also seems to have missed the Global Times editorial that says China will take no military action.

Is his degree of self-importance in inverse proportion to the amount of time he spent on research?

Conclusion

What we are witnessing is how a nation with arrested political development and without a sense of morality, with neither real friends nor real ideals–only size, money, and the desire to recreate the world as it existed two millenia ago–tries to seize the territory of another nation in the modern age and create a contemporary suzerainty. The incident seems to have at last focused the attention of people outside of East Asia on Chinese behavior, apart from those who populate the offices of a dying media culture and the fashionable salons of the elite.

Paul Lin of the Taipei Times wrote:

Japan’s response — releasing 14 crew members while keeping the captain detained — is basically designed to be reasonable without being a capitulation of Japan’s authority. In the long term, however, China’s biggest foe remains the US — still the most prominent democracy. Beijing will try to appeal to the common writing system and heritage of China and Japan to dissolve the US-Japan security treaty, so that it can gain control of the island chain. The US, Japan and Taiwan have to keep a watchful eye out for this, and must not show any sign of weakness lest China exploit a chink in the armor.

When he says island chain, it’s possible he is also referring to Okinawa itself, several decades down the road. The Ryukyu kingdom once paid tribute to the Qing Dynasty, and the Chinese never forget.

After the debacle with the United States over the Futenma marine base and this incident with China, Japan’s Democratic Party might yet learn something about the realities of governing. It is unlikely there will be more talk any time soon from the party about an “equilateral triangle” among Japan, China and the United States, much less any of the silliness about yuai and an East Asian entity.

They’re about to get another lesson when Wallace Gregson, the American Assistant Secretary of Defense, Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, shows up in Tokyo next week to ask the Japanese to increase their financial contribution for American bases and personnel in Japan. Several US sources have confirmed he will use as justification Chinese activity in the East China Sea and the Senkakus dustup.

The current agreement for payment expires next March, and the DPJ has long called for Japan’s financial contribution to be reduced.

If we’re lucky, perhaps the DPJ will also realize they might have brought it on themselves with their handling of the Futenma base issue, former party leader Ozawa Ichiro’s annual jaunts to fawn to the Chinese, and breaching the standard domestic protocol and forcing the Tenno (Emperor) to meet with a Chinese political leader last winter.

The authorities could legally have kept the Chinese sea captain in detention for a few more days, so his early release might open the government to criticism for weakness–particularly as the Chinese have been stepping up the economic pressure. One of the Chinese commentators said the Japanese government might have to pay for their acts with votes. He might be right, but perhaps not in ways he anticipated. Then again, what would mainland Chinese know about democracy?

Japan released Zhan Qixiong today, but the incident will likely have repercussions that last for quite a while.

Afterwords:

* A Japanese government source who saw the videos of the incident said it would be difficult to prove the malicious intent of the captain at a public trial because the effect of the sea currents couldn’t be completely ruled out.

* Here’s a fascinating and informative paper about how the Chinese are becoming a global fishing power. The author also says:

(C)onsistent with the Chinese tendency toward close integration of civil and military institutions, China’s large fishing fleet is already integrated into a maritime militia that could render crucial support in a hypothetical military campaign, whether ferrying troops across the Taiwan Strait or laying mines in distant locations. The sheer number of fishing vessels that could be involved would present a severe challenge to any adversary attempting to counter this strategy.

* During his 16th century visit to the Ryukyus, Chen Kan wrote about the natives’ fondness for a beverage that can only be awamori, the Okinawan version of shochu.

* Japan has its useful idiots, too.

Even though Suganuma Unryu quoted an American official as stating that the Senkakus were included in the territory Japan was to keep in the peace treaty, he still argues that the islets are Chinese. He’s now at Oberlin University, and here’s the About page on his blog. He used to be a senior research fellow at the Institute of Moralogy.

Go ahead, read that website. I dare you.

A website called The China Desk likes a paper that historian Inoue Kiyoshi wrote on the issue in 1972 so much, they posted it:

(I)n collusion with U.S. imperialists, reactionary rulers and militarist forces within Japan are clamoring that the Senkaku Islands are Japanese territory, attempting to drag the Japanese people into a militarist, anti-China whirlwind. This whirlwind is certain to become fiercer after US armed forces return the so-called “administrative right over Okinawa” to Japan on May 15 of this year. We who are striving for the independence of the Japanese nation, for friendship between Japan and China, and for peace in Asia, must smash this conspiracy by U.S. and Japanese reactionaries. As a weapon in this struggle, I am providing a brief account of the history of the so-called Senkaku Islands.

* It’s curious that Japan’s Social Democrats are keeping a low profile. I haven’t seen any of their comments quoted in the media, and they hadn’t written anything for their website the last time I looked. Then again, this isn’t the ideal time to promote their view that Japan can trust its security to “the peace-loving peoples of the world”, as stated in the preamble to the Japanese Constitution.

Thanks to Bender for the Kristof link.

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38 Responses to “Coming attractions”

  1. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Thank you for great post and your effort poured into this. I can only say that. Have a nice weekend, listen to nice music and enjoy cold beer. Otsukaresama! Arigato!
    ————-
    I think I might take you up on that.

    乾杯!

    And you’re welcome.

    ー A

  2. Roual Deetlefs said

    Ampontan.

    I must congratulate you on an excellent post. Am I right in saying that a scramble for oil is also a motivation for all of this ? Regarding the Rare Earths embargo, please note that Japan has also embarked on Rare Earth substitution. I find this rising hubris of China somewhat unsettling.
    —-
    RD: Thanks. It sure seems that way, doesn’t it? That’s why I bolded the ECAFE survey part in the timeline.

    - A.

  3. Yes, it is the scramble for oil…..

    Excellent post.

    Richter has a much longer post with many many maps and docs.

    http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/jw%21ARR7CzOBSEbGZjQIIAbtkQ–/article?mid=1582

    The 1953 Renminerbao article is on my blog.

    http://michaelturton.blogspot.com/2008/06/1953-renmin-ribao-says-senkakus-part-of.html

    Michael

  4. BTW, the China Desk is run by the far-right son of a power KMT diplomat named Bevin Chu. It’s essentially the KMT version of a Stormfront website.
    ———
    MT: Thanks for your note, the links, the additional information, and the kind words.

    First time I ran across your site. Well done!

    - A.

  5. BTW you don’t happen to have a link/image of the UDN piece on fisherman from 1968, do you?

  6. jerome in vals said

    Awesome. Right down to the sudbued reaction from Zhongnanhai at the Russian coastguard sinking of an undocumented Chinese ship off Nakhodka in Feb 2009.

    “China Desk” Bevin Chu is the “scion of the humble ROC foreign affairs officer” who peacefully spent WWII in Canada while his boss CKS, the warlord America had fallen in love with, used his compatriots as scorched earth fodder against Japan.

  7. bender said

    One issue that the Japanese media likes to almost always bring up is that in China, anti-Japanese protests may lead to anti-government protests, and that’s what the Communists are really worried about. I’m wondering how many Japanese actually buy this story. It seems so contrary to the course of events that rolled out before our eyes! When did Chinese leaders ever tried to calm the situation?

    Anyways, it was a good lesson for us.
    ———–
    B: They start arresting demonstrators and cracking down on the Internet. It’s not just East Asia, BTW, there are some articles on this in the Western media. Read that piece in the Epoch Times, BTW.

    -A.

  8. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    May be we should not wake Ampontan up early today, but….

    Govenment/DPJ apparently miscalculated the effect of detention of the captain and fell into this miserable result. Koizumi purged similar situated Chinese on the spot several years ago thereby shutting up the situation. As the government chooses different path, many Japanese must have prepared for worse evolution of the story but my feeling is that only minority expected this “easy going” and “devastating” result. Irony is that US Government openly welcomed the result. I can imagine how US Government is pleased: 1) they do not have to mobilize navy, 2) Anti Japan-US coalition sentiment within Japan is deterred substantially, especially in Okinawa, so the course of their forces getting out of Okinawa could take different path within a few years,
    3) Anti Chinese sentiment is getting stronger from Far East to SE Asia for years to come, thereby requiring US presense to assure power balance,
    4) US can handle economical deal with China better than Japan (at least relatively, simply because Japan showed its inability to deal wisely).
    The above is pretty obvious for all readers here, but believed or not, the introductory part (wrong detention and that its effect was not considered by Kan/Maehara/Sengoku like Koizumi administration did) took sometime to be arrived at. A man suggested me that there was necessarily a “deal” between China and DPJ government, but China went on so far as to demand the same old “apology and compensation” this morning. It is difficult to believe that it is a part of the deal, so I take it as unilateral conceding by DPJ miserables.

    Other guy suggested me that China lost a great deal by making it clear that it is one huge THREATENING empire, and Japan at least promoted that intentionally! What a brilliant idea! But I do not buy that, since China always has been such and so many people in Asia including Chinese already know that and always acting on that warning – this time China did gain and did not lose a point – a complete victory which can be capitalized for years to come in Japan-China relation. So congrats, China, be it windfall or not.

    Everything after WWII to present day has been largely as projected by US, except for failure to keep China from communism, and it lingers on. But on reflection, I doubt China minus communism would be that different, landing on the notion that this huge nation with more than 90 percent is somehow one people 漢民族 itself is a threat.

    Anybody read Jack London’s short story written in 1914 called Unpararelled Invasion? That is a devastating story unacceptable from any humanitarian aspect, but worth reading for simple concern he expressed – Yellow Peril. It is most ironical that the same mongoloid – Japanese (it’s me) has to say this, but within that short story Japan is defeated completely by China (not US and Europe) resulting Japan is confined to the four islands to devote itself to art which pleases and makes world wonder – what a nice story!

    The only hope for the future lies in expecting human race (think now, at lease one fifth is Chinese people) to be more educated, well informed and diversified so that an empire like China cannot take its current approach – but it can be achieved only by other people like New York Times to be more educated and informed – they would say Chinese people must first do that, but it is wrong – deadly wrong.

    Hell, am I sounding like one of op. ed. in some countries?

    —–
    2csm:

    Thanks for the note. I am very curious to see the shape of public reaction. If this happened in the US, the government’s poll numbers would take an immediate hit. Just as much a miscalculation was releasing him early. They could have held him to the last possible minute, released him, and explained there was not enough evidence to prove intent. This looks very bad, and I don’t think Kan and Sengoku are capable of selling it.

    Instead of Japan being part of an equilateral triangle, both China and the US are pushing it around. Perhaps that is the advantage of a two-party system. You get to see how the other party can really screw up.

    As far as a secret deal between China and the DPJ, I saw that in a short article by 石 (I think), the Chinese guy who became a Japanese citizen. I forget the rest of his name, but I think you know who I mean. His idea didn’t seem convincing, so I didn’t bring it up.

    - A.

  9. Other guy suggested me that China lost a great deal by making it clear that it is one huge THREATENING empire, and Japan at least promoted that intentionally! What a brilliant idea! But I do not buy that, since China always has been such and so many people in Asia including Chinese already know that and always acting on that warning – this time China did gain and did not lose a point – a complete victory which can be capitalized for years to come in Japan-China relation. So congrats, China, be it windfall or not.

    Schizoid, that’s very insightful comment. But I made the same point that Ampontan did a while back, that japan’s government and people were primed to lean a bit more toward China and made more trouble for the US, yet China couldn’t even lay low and let that happen, never mind go on a full-on diplomatic blitz with cultural exchanges, buying visits, diplomatic flattery, etc. As Amponton and many others have been saying, the next Hegemon is really gonna suck. Not like the old.

  10. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    I think you meant 石平? I searched but could not find any account according to him on the deal between China and DPJ. He seems to be too busy for something else to update his blog I found. I have to send my wife and son off somewhere so I do not have more time to browse around.
    ———-
    This is it:

    http://blog.goo.ne.jp/hm-library/e/173c0642421a2281068b134ec19595bc

    I have to read this again, because it didn’t make much sense to me the first time.

    - A

  11. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Micheal:

    Thanks for the note. Just for safety sake, when I said somebody told me ” Japan at least promoted that intentionally!”, “that” means negative image of China, as threatening empire, I did not mean Japan promoted China’s rise as empire (or do you blame Japan solely for the rise?).

    You don’t take my congrats to China literally, do you?

    Japanese “embraced” surrender followed by A-bombs and thereby had huge backing by US and restored, even enhanced its prosperity. You think it is hard to imagine we Japanese welcome any next Hegemon that is China, don’t you.
    ———-
    2csm: Sorry, this part is unclear.

    Japanese “embraced” surrender followed by A-bombs and thereby had huge backing by US and restored, even enhanced its prosperity. You think it is hard to imagine we Japanese welcome any next Hegemon that is China, don’t you.

    Do you mean that because Japan did it once with the US it can easily do it again with China?

    - A.

  12. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Seems like some part is jammed in your comment…

    Oh no, no no….

    Because Japan did it once with US it CANNOT easily do it with China. Who wants to kill that much and be killed that much? We are not phoenix which loves to die every 70 years and reborn.

    I just meant US (took its benefit but) at the same time gave a lot to Japan, since that was in US’ interest and that was thought fair. Now apply that to China, can you guess China would give Japan enough benefit by and through, for instance, occupation if ever Japan fights with China and be defeated? In worst case, mass murder. In least case, raping and robbery.

  13. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    I hate to post mutiples but thanks to Ampontan I read this guy Mr. 石平(Stone Peace)’s post. Though he did some minute observation such as difference of expressions by Chinese officials to formulate his case, so far he proved very wrong. If any deal is really the case, that means both side realized the conspired scenario very unskillfully, which is hard to believe.

  14. [...] Ampontan: coming [...]

  15. Michael Feng said

    Errh, there are plenty of hisotical record in China which showed the Diaoyu island as a part of China and NOT part of the Ryukyu kingdom(now occupied by Japan and called okinawa), so you entire reasoning about the island belong to japan collapses and doesnt hold. As diaoyu island belong to part of Taiwan, Japn only gained the island at 1895 AFTER it GAINED Taiwan, not when it gained Okinawa! So after the WWII when Japan relinguished occupied land like Korea and Taiwan, the Island obviously went to Taiwan and not Japan, Japanese claim on the Island are extremely weak and doesnt stand.

  16. Michael Feng, the Senkakus were occupied in Jan of 1895. The Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed in April of 1895. Taiwan declared independence and the lowland areas were not completely occupied by Japan until months had passed (the mountains would not be “pacified” until the early 1930s).

    If you are going to argue about history, it is a good idea to know some.

  17. bender said

    I liked the post made by an American (I suppose) in the comment section on another blog about how the U.S. must be a territory of her majesty because it is shown in older maps to be an English colony.

  18. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Then perhaps UK can claim much more than China may want.

  19. mac said

    A long post and thread of which I have to admit I have to skim the latter half.

    Just wanted to add a bit of backstory.

    Firstly, it seems that South Korea has caught and detailed numerous Chinese boats and fisherman in the last few years, one figure I heard was around 500. They demanded compensation for their return and got it.

    Secondly, it seems the ships … or some of them … are not all civilian but there is some involvement with the armed forces or Chinese paramilitary forces of which there are something like 3,969,000 troops. In essence, that this is all low level, persistent probing and provocation.

    Korea and China have similar social values over screaming and hectoring, demanding demonstrative public humiliations, aka apologies, and, of course, moolah … the money. Japan very much not so. Yes, money works but it more discrete and far more based on rights and wrongs.

    Outsiders ought to take a view at these differences.

    As an outsider, it seems to be, China is playing and winning the PR war especially to Korea and the US … the PR war of “see Japan never apologies” which has been dug in deep for decades. Of course, it is wrong but the PR war has and is being won because Japan wont fight it. I think Japan is wrong in not doing so and wants to employ an aggressive Western PR company on one hand … and send out load of gorgeous young ambassadors on the other.

    War by J-Pop in other words.

    Japan should just do a Korea on these particular rocks and go park an army base on it, then suck all the oil and gas out quickly. They actually look a lot prettier than the Liancourt Rocks too!

  20. Mac, you have a link for the Korean fishing boat stories?

  21. [...] cut off of rare earths to Japan was handled, this fantastic blog post on the Senkakus mess from Ampontan says that the cut off did not occur as an administrative order, but as an order not to [...]

  22. [...] For a more lengthy article on the Japanese, Chinese, and Taiwanese territorial claims for the islands, check out this Ampontan blog post. [...]

  23. Japundit said

    Story added…

    Your story has been featured on Japundit! Here is the link: http://www.japundit.com/China/Japan_China_dispute_over_Senkaku_islets

  24. Simon said

    Mr. Michael Feng,

    “the Ryukyu kingdom(now occupied by Japan and called okinawa)”

    I wonder how comfortable you feel with this sentence:

    “the Tibetian nation (now occupied by China and called the Tibet Autonomous Zone”

    Dude, when you argue logically, you have to avoid calling the kettle black when you are a black pot. It doesn’t help your case.

  25. yankdownunder said

    “Kristof’s obviously been talking to Chinese sources without confirming …”
    I think his source is his Chinese wife.

    His writing is so biased.

    “Chinese navigational records show the islands …”
    What records?

    “Japan purported to “discover” the islands …”

    China has “navigational records” and Japan “purported”.

    Then in his second article

    http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/more-on-the-senkakudiaoyu-islands/

    “I’m not persuaded — it seems silly to say that China didn’t protest the seizure of a few barren rocks, when it was so weak that it had lost the entire province of Taiwan …”

    China invaded Tibet and attacked UN forces in Korea but it was too
    weak to “protest the seizure of a few barren rocks”.
    Now that is silly.
    ——
    Y: Thanks for the note. That would explain a few things.
    BTW, take a look at the third link on the post at top right now, Better Late Than Never, for a different view of “losing the entire province of Taiwan”.
    - A.

  26. [...] an article titled Coming attractions [en] Ampontan gives his interpretation of the recent diplomatic row between China and Japan – [...]

  27. Grigori said

    US had already agreed to return Diaoyutai (Senkaku) to China in 1943. However it handed it to Japan instead in the 1970s, over the objection of China and Taiwan. Japan’s claim to Diaoyutai is based on the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895 after it defeated China. This treaty was nullified when the Japanese lost the Second world war. For Japan to claim Diaoyutai again is to refute the terms of it’s surrender agreement in 1945. This is totally unacceptable.

    “Taiwan (including Diaoyutai) was ceded to Japan in 1895 after the first Sino-Japanese War. Originally, during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, the Diaoyutai Archipelago came under the jurisdiction of Taipei Prefecture. After the close of the Second World War, when U.S. troops were stationed on the Ryukyu and Diaoyutai Archipelagoes, the KMT government which had received Taiwan did not immediately demand that that the US give them sovereignty. Diaoyutai 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 was part of Taiwan hence was included in that package.”

    — Official Chinese position on the matter
    ————-
    G: Thanks for the note:

    Because you seem to be unfamiliar with how discussion is conducted on this website, here’s a little tip:

    Making stuff up won’t convince anyone.

    - A.

  28. M-Bone said

    At Cairo, it was agreed that Japan would return all territories that had been taken from China including Manchuria and Taiwan. Was there specific reference to the Senkaku islands at Cairo? The phrasing of the above makes it seem like it was an important issue for China in 1943 and was raised explicitly.

    How long were they administered by the “Prefecture of Taiwan” and how long were they administered by the “Prefecture of Okinawa”?

    From the Japanese Communist Party (who, despite being pro-China pacifists, are totally behind Japanese sovereignty over the Senkakus) -
    “In 1884, Tatsushiro Koga, a Japanese, for the first time in Japanese history explored Uotsurijima Island of the Senkakus and in the next year, 1885, he applied to the Japanese government for a lease on the islands. With regard to the territorial possession of the Senkakus, in January 1895 the Japanese government decided to place Uotsurijima and Kubajima Islands under the jurisdiction of Okinawa Prefecture. In April 1896, the government decided to include the Senkakus in Yaeyama County and designated them as state-owned lands. Historically, this measure was the first act of possession of the Senkakus.”

    The Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed in April, 1895. What gives?

    Japan claims that it was explored and incorporated into Okinawa and this seems to have been recognized by international law, not by the treaty of Shimonoseki.

    Honestly, I’m not entirely sold on the idea of unquestionable Japanese sovereignty because, just like 99% of the commenters out there, I’m not totally up on 19th century terra nullius laws. I do know, however, that sovereignty under terra nullius was established through occupation, not through mapping. Nobody “owns” Antarctica, simply because people don’t live there. Apparently, the only time the Senkakus have been inhabited was by Okinawan fishermen through the first half of the 20th century.

    It seems like there is a lot of truthiness and misdirection in that Chinese statement above, as well as the traditional Chinese idea of sovereignty (see how far that gets native Americans). I’m sure that China won’t be openly challenging the US on the “promise to return the Senkakus” at Cairo.

    While claiming the Senkakus is at least within the realm of reason, some of China’s territorial claims are truly petulant. Check out the Scarborough Shoal map – smack next to Luzon but claimed by China as a result of it being on a map in the 13th century. As long as the same logic is being used in the Senkakus case, it isn’t doing China any favors. These claims would effectively make the entire triangle of water between China, the Philippines, and Indonesia into a Chinese lake.

  29. Aceface said

    “US had already agreed to return Diaoyutai (Senkaku) to China in 1943. However it handed it to Japan instead in the 1970s”

    Never.Which is the reason why American kept it along with the rest of Okinawa until May 15th 1972.

    “during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, the Diaoyutai Archipelago came under the jurisdiction of Taipei Prefecture. ”

    Senkaku was never part of colonial Taiwan during Japanese era.It has always been under the jurisdiction of Okinawa prefecture.

    “when U.S. troops were stationed on the Ryukyu and Diaoyutai Archipelagoes”.

    The U.S troops never stationed on Senkaku.Which is why it has been the target of airstrike drill.

    M-bone:

    “At Cairo, it was agreed that Japan would return all territories that had been taken from China including Manchuria and Taiwan. ”

    If my memory is correct, Taiwan was not returned to anyone.Simply Tokyo gave up the ownership.
    ——–
    That last part is correct, as Michael Turton has pointed out. The Americans deliberately did not want to award the island to anyone.

    - A.

  30. mac said

    Technically, isn’t Taiwan still ‘owned’ by the USA? They call it “Sovereignty Held in Trust”. Taiwan was sovereign Japanese territory until ceded in the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1952. Under the terms of the SFPT, the territorial sovereignty of Taiwan was not awarded to the RoC. It is still a ‘foreign territory under the dominion of the United States’. Its final political status has not yet been determined.

    Given that Japan is, for all intents and purpose a virtual ‘foreign territory under the dominion of the United States’, both sets of islands would appear to act as America’s border with China.

    Thanks for picking up so well on the “Chinese Fisherman equal Militia Force” comments. It is amazing how, despite how far and wide this story has been blitzed across the world’s media, none of the leading Western media appear to be covering or examining this aspect.

    We often discuss the Western media’s shoddy handling of Japan issues here. This is another example. Is it ignorance … is it done deliberately to devalue Japan … is China working the media wires like crazy?

    Japan should be fighting its own corner and communicating what is going on here.

  31. The US does not own Taiwan or the Senkakus. That idea is a bogus theory pushed by a group of pro-PRC types who argue the US is holding Taiwan in trust for China.

  32. M-Bone said

    Thanks for the Taiwan clarification.

    “is China working the media wires like crazy?”

    If they are, they aren’t doing a great job.

  33. Aceface said

    Chiang Kai Shek has very liberal attitude on historical claim over territorial dispute.He also agreed with the independence of Mongolia

  34. Aceface said

    Chiang Kai Shek has very liberal attitude on historical claim over territorial dispute.
    KMT had recognized once on the independence of Mongolia(decleared independence in 1911),which was agreed among the other allies at Yalta conference.But then turned it down when Mongolia recognized communist China in 1948.KMT has been claiming entire Mongolia and part of Russian federation(Tuva republic,which was Tannu Ulyanhai region during Qing Dynasty)until the 90′s.
    Chiang simply followed his own practice in 1971 when the prospect of underwater oil field popped up.

  35. Tron HonoH said

    (1) The Diaoyu Islands are an inalienable part of China’s territory.

    China was the first country that discovered and explored the Diaoyu Islands and obtained sovereignty by occupation. Since ancient times, the Chinese have fished, collected medicinal herbs and sought shelters on these islands and in their surrounding waters. No later than the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the islands had been discovered, explored and named by the Chinese. Ancient Chinese books, such as the Book on Voyage Routes and the Voyage with a Tail Wind, kept a complete record of the navigation routes used by Chinese fishermen in this sea area. Due to the natural conditions at sea and the possession of technology such as ship-building at that time, only the Chinese military and civilians could reach the islands during the monsoon season. They navigated through the islands and sought haven there in stormy weather. They carried out economic activities such as fishing, collecting herbs and picking fruits. For about five centuries until 1895, China had never been interfered in its exercise of these rights.

    One cannot speak of the Diaoyu Islands without mentioning Ryukyu Kingdom. Ryukyu Kingdom was a vassal state of the Ming and Qing dynasties to which it paid tributes, while the latter sent envoys to grant honorific titles to the kings in Ryukyu in recognition of their rule. The Diaoyu Islands were on the navigation route from China’s mainland to Ryukyu Kingdom. Chinese officials on mission to Ryukyu all referred to these islands as their navigation marks. They put down in the official documents such as the Record of the Mission to Ryukyu with detailed descriptions of their voyages through the Diaoyu Island, Huangwei Island and Chiwei Island and repeatedly confirmed the boundary between China and Ryukyu. Historical facts tell us that the Diaoyu Islands do not fall into the domain of Ryukyu. China’s historical records and official documents all show that it was the Chinese people who first discovered, developed and utilized the Diaoyu Islands. According to the international law of that time, discovery means occupation and occupation means obtainment of territorial sovereignty. Therefore, China obtained sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands by occupation.

    The Chinese government exercised effective rule and administration, and strengthened its sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands. Successive Chinese governments all included the Diaoyu Islands into the confines of China’s territory and exercised sovereignty and effective rule by taking measures to develop, utilize and administer the islands. In 1171, General Wang Dayou guarding Fujian established military camps on Penghu Islands and sent officers to station in the islands. Taiwan and its affiliated islands including the Diaoyu Islands were under the military command of Penghu and, in terms of administration, they were under Jinjiang of Quanzhou, Fujian province. Both the Ming and Qing dynasties incorporated the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands into their territory and designated them as part of the maritime defense areas. The Book on Managing the Sea (1562, Ming Dynasty) and Imperial Map of Chinese and Foreign Lands (1863, Qing Dynasty) made clear descriptions about the area. Historical facts show that the Chinese government has administered the Diaoyu Islands in various ways and effectively exercised and strengthened its sovereignty over the Islands.

    (2) Japan’s arguments about its claim of sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands are untenable.

    There are mainly two legal arguments that Japan has evoked to justify its occupation of the Diaoyu Islands: First, occupation of so-called terra nullius, second, acquisition by prescription (prescriptio acquisitive). Both arguments are untenable.

    By international law, the object of occupation shall be limited to terra nullius. Terra nullius refers to land which has never been subject to the sovereignty of any state or over which any prior sovereign state has expressly or implicitly relinquished sovereignty. The fact is that Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands have been subject to the sovereignty of the Chinese government as its sea defense area since the Ming Dynasty. They are an inalienable part of China’s territory. Due to the inhospitable natural environment, these islands are not permanently inhabited and fishermen only take up abode on these islands for seasonal activities. But having no permanent residents does not make these islands terra nullius. The Diaoyu Islands are not terra nullius. They are China’s territory. The Japanese government and society are well aware of this fact. The official archives of the Japanese government and documents and correspondence of Japanese officials all record and give evidence to this. For example, in the letter to Home Minister Aritomo Yamagata, then Japanese Foreign Minister Kaoru Inoue wrote in explicit terms that these islands had already been given Chinese names by the Qing government and that the Japanese government had been admonished by the Qing government for coveting these islands. Since the Diaoyu Islands are not terra nullius, Japan’s so-called occupation is non-existent. Ex injuria jus non oritur (A legal right or entitlement cannot arise from an unlawful act or omission) is a fundamental principle of international law. Japan’s so-called occupation is mala fide, illegal and unjustifiable; it therefore does not have the legal effect as what may arise from occupation recognized by international law.

    The other argument that Japan presents is “long and continuous effective administration”, that is, to obtain sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands based on acquisition by prescription (prescriptio acquisitive).

    “Acquisition by prescription” of territory has been all along an extremely disputable issue in international law. Those against it totally deny the legitimacy of prescription as a way to obtain territory. They are of the view that this is “merely a legal argument serving expansionist countries for occupying others’ territories”. Those for it see prescription as a way to obtain territory, it is defined as “the acquisition of sovereignty over a territory through continuous and undisturbed exercise of sovereignty over it, and during such a period as is necessary to create under the influence of historical development the general conviction that the present condition of things is in conformity with international order.” International judicial practice has never clearly confirmed the status of “prescription” as an independent way to acquire territory. As for the exact time span of the “period as is necessary”, international law has no final verdict to make it 50 years or 100 years.

    If we put aside the legitimacy of “acquisition by prescription” and merely examine the key factors, it is clear that both the Chinese central government and the Taiwan local authority have been firm, explicit and consistent on issues concerning China’s sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and in opposing Japan’s attempt to steal them. They have launched protests, especially diplomatic protests, against official and government-supported civilian activities, including setting up a lighthouse on the Diaoyu Island by Japanese right-wingers, “nationalizing” the lighthouse by the Japanese government, paying the “rent” for land on the Diaoyu Islands to those so-called non-governmental owners, and submitting a chart specifying the so-called baselines of the territorial sea of the Diaoyu Islands to the United Nations by the Japanese government. Japan can never gain legitimate rights over the Diaoyu Islands through occupation no matter how long it may last.

    (3) Agreements between Japan and the United States cannot grant Japan sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands.

    In the wake of World War II, the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation, the outcome of the Anti-fascist victory clearly defined the territory of Japan. According to the Cairo Declaration issued by China, the US and the UK in December 1943, their purpose is that “Japan shall be stripped of all the islands in the Pacific which she has seized or occupied since the beginning of World War I in 1914, and that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese” shall be restored to China. “Japan will also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by violence and greed”.

    The Potsdam Proclamation issued in 1945 reaffirmed that “the terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine”. On Jan 29, 1946, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers Instruction No 667 explicitly stipulated the range of the Japanese territory, which included the four major islands of Japan (Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku) and the approximately 1,000 smaller adjacent islands, including the Tsushima Islands and the Ryukyu Islands north of 30 degrees north latitude. The delimitation of the Japanese territory by the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation is clear-cut. The Diaoyu Islands are not included in the Japanese territory in any way.

    On Sept 8, 1951, Japan and the US concluded the San Francisco Peace Treaty in the absence of China and the Soviet Union, two victorious countries in the war against Japan, putting Nansei Shoto south of 29 degrees north latitude (including the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands) under the US trusteeship. The Diaoyu Islands were not mentioned in the treaty, nor by the Japanese government’s later explanations thereof. On Dec 25, 1953, the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands issued the Civil Administration Proclamation No 27 on the geographical boundaries of the Ryukyu Islands and defined the areas administered by the US government and the Ryukyu Civil Administration as the islands, islets, atolls, rocks and territorial waters along 24 degrees north latitude and 122 degrees east longitude. This proclamation included the Diaoyu Islands, China’s territory, into their areas of administration. These islands were also included in the areas to be returned to Japan under the Japan-US Okinawa Reversion Agreement signed on June 17, 1971. The Japanese government takes the above-mentioned agreement as the legal ground for its claim of territorial sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands.

    On Dec 30, 1971, the Chinese Foreign Ministry pointed out in its statement that “the incorporation by the United States and Japan of China’s Diaoyu and other islands into the area of reversion under the Okinawa Reversion Agreement is totally illegal. It does not in any way change the territorial sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China over the Diaoyu and other islands”. The US government also stated that returning the administrative authority over these islands gained from Japan to Japan does not in any way undermine relevant sovereign claim. The United States cannot increase the legal right Japan had prior to its handover of the administrative authority over these islands to China, nor can it undermine the right of other claimants because of the return of the administrative authority to Japan. All the conflicting claims over these islands are issues that should be resolved by the parties concerned among themselves. On Sept 11, 1996, US State Department spokesperson Nicholas Burns said further that the US neither recognizes nor supports any country’s sovereign claim over the Diaoyu Islands.

    On Sept 1951, the Chinese government issued a statement regarding the San Francisco Peace Treaty signed by the US and Japan without the involvement of the Chinese people and the lawful government of China. It pointed out the illegal nature of the treaty. The “trusteeship” and “reversion” deriving from the treaty included the Diaoyu Islands, thus violating China’s territorial sovereignty and becoming the source of the territorial dispute between China and Japan. The San Francisco Peace Treaty and other relevant documents have no right to cover or determine the ownership of the Chinese territory, and cannot have any legal judgment that extends the sovereignty of Diaoyu Islands to Japan.

    The Diaoyu Islands are an inalienable part of China’s territory. The so-called administrative authority the US “got from” and “returned to” Japan is unjustified. Japan’s claim over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands on that basis has no legal ground in international law.

    Conclusion

    Japan has never given up its attempt to gain sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands. It first destroyed China’s markings on the islands, then renamed the islands, and built a heliport and other facilities. In recent years, Japan went even further. It abetted what it called “civilian actions” to create a fait accompli of “actual control” of the Diaoyu Islands, followed by government renting and “takeover” actions. All this aim to pave the legal grounds for its occupation of the Diaoyu Islands and gradually win recognition from the international community. However, Japan’s claim to sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and its encroachment are illegal in the first place. Therefore, its carefully designed “government actions” have no legal ground and do not constitute the execution of state power. They never had, and will never have, any legal effect.

    Article II of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone promulgated in 1992 makes clear that the Diaoyu Islands and other islands are Chinese territory, and reaffirms the legality of China’s ownership of them. In 2009, a Chinese marine surveillance and law enforcement ship was sent to the Diaoyu Islands in repudiation of Japan’s “acquisition by prescription”. This was also a concrete action of China’s exercise of sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands.
    ———–
    T: Thanks for the note. It is impressive, both for its length and its complete inaccuracy, as a careful re-reading of this post should demonstrate. Here’s an example:

    The Chinese government exercised effective rule and administration, and strengthened its sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands.

    The Chinese government never did anything of the sort. In fact, Chinese maps, both the modern ones in this post, and the older one shown here, demonstrate that China never claimed it. They certainly didn’t administer it.

    Rule Number One for convincing people is to not make stuff up.

    Article II of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone promulgated in 1992…

    …is utterly meaningless in an international context or in the context of a Chinese land grab.

    Here’s the thing: You guys are going to have to learn sooner or later that Chinese law is not World Law, regardless of how much foreign government debt the Chinese government buys. If you learn it sooner, you save everyone, including yourselves, a lot of grief.

    But I’m not optimistic about that.

    Yoroshiku!

    - A.

    PS: Okinawa, Taiwan, and Tibet aren’t yours either.

  36. Wow Tron Honoh! The PRC is getting a lot for its 50 cents!!!

  37. [...] [...]

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