Shimojo Masao (14): The Senkakus Weren’t Taiwanese Territory Either
Posted by ampontan on Monday, February 7, 2011
THE HEADLINE on the article in the 23 December Sankei Shimbun leapt from the page: “The Senkakus (are) Chinese Territory: Old document sold for JPY 166 Million”. The article reported that it was proclaimed the old document contained conclusive proof identifying the Senkaku Islets (Chinese name: Diaoyutai) as Chinese territory. The document was put up for auction in Beijing, and the winning bid was CNY 13.25 million (about JPY 166 million). The auction attracted attention because the sponsors announced in advance that foreigners would be prohibited from bidding to prevent “the destruction of this conclusive evidence”.
The old document in question was identified as the Zhongshan Jili, Volume #5 of the Fusheng Liuji by Shen Fu, which was thought to be lost. This previously unknown document was said to have been recorded in the Jishizhu, which was abstracted by the Qing Dynasty scholar Qian Yong.
To start with the conclusion, not only does this JPY 166 million document fail to offer conclusive proof that the Senkakus are Chinese territory, the idea that a Japanese would purchase it “to destroy the conclusive proof” is a groundless concern.
Until now, the Chinese have used the records of Chinese emissaries sent to the Ryukyu Kingdom (today’s Okinawa Prefecture) since the Ming Dynasty era to assert that the Senkakus were historically Chinese territory. These records include the directions for a sea route. The name of the island of Uotsuri (Chinese name: Diaoyutai) was variously recorded as Chenkan in the Shiliuqiulu (1534), Guorulin in the Chongbian Shiliuqiulu (1562), Wangji in the Shiliuqiu Zalu (1683), Xubaoguang in the Zhongshan Yunxinlu (1719), Zhouhuang in the Liuqiu Guozhilue (1756), Lidingyuan in the Shiliuqiulu (1800), and Zhaikun in the Xuliuqiu Guozhilue (1808).
Then, in the fall of 2005, a copy of the Jishizhu was discovered in a Nanjing antiques market. Inside was an excerpt about the dispatch of an emissary to the Ryukyus in 1808 titled Celiuqiu Guojilue, that read, “Sighted Diaoyutai on the morning of the 13th.” Chinese and Taiwanese scholars regard the Celiuqiu Guojilue as part of the lost fifth volume (Zhongshan Jili) of the Fusheng Liuji. They claim it is proof the Diaoyutai islets were discovered 76 years before the discovery by the Japanese Koga Tatsushiro.
It is impossible to claim that the records of the Celiuqiu Guojilue immediately prove that Diaoyutai was Chinese, however. To be sure, the text does say there was the intent to establish a vassalage with the Ryukyu king in 1808, and that Zhai Kun was named the principal emissary and Fei Xi-zhang the secondary emissary. Both men did travel to the Ryukyus in 1808. The name Diaoyutai is recorded in the Liuqiu Guozhilue, which both men edited, as being on the route from Fuzhou to the Ryukyus.
To use the appearance of the name Diaoyutai on the sea route as the basis for making the claim that it is conclusive evidence proving the Senkakus are Chinese territory, however, is not possible. Zhai Kun himself did not recognize Diaoyutai as Chinese territory. In his poetry anthology Dongying Baiyong, he includes a poem recounting the trip from the port at Taiping to the port at Naha. The poem states that Mt. Jilong in Taiwan was the limit of Chinese territory at that time.
Zhai Kun set sail from Fuzhou in May 1808 and reached Naha on the night of the 17th, passing Wuhumen, Jilongshan, Diaoyutai, Chiweiyu, Heigouyang, Gumishan, and Machishan on the way. Recounting the trip, he writes that Mt. Jilong is located between Wuhumen and Diaoyutai, and that the mountain marks the outer border of China. He demonstrates the same geographical awareness in another of his poems when he writes that he “passed Mt. Jilong, the outer limit of China”. This enables us to confirm that Zhai Kun was aware that Mt. Jilong delineated the farthest boundary of Qing Dynasty China.
Why did Zhai Kun state that Mt. Jilong, in what was then Taiwan Prefecture, was the edge of China? Because the Qing Dynasty had established Taiwan Prefecture as a Chinese possession in 1684 and designated Mt. Jilong as the northernmost limit to their area of jurisdiction. The Taiwan Fuzhi, compiled every year during the reign of Emperor Kanxi by Jiang Yu-ying, states that the prefecture extends 2,315 li north to Mt. Jilong, That is echoed in the 1696 edition, when the same distance to the mountain is cited and the mountain is called the boundary.
In any event, the Jilong Castle near the present city of Keelung and Mt. Jilong are located that distance from Taiwan Prefecture, and were the outer limits of that prefecture. That’s the reason Zhai Kun writes in Dongying Baiyong that the mountain was the boundary of China, and that when he passed the mountain he passed outside of China. The Senkaku Islets, about 200 kilometers east-northeast of the northern edge of Taiwan at Keelung, were not included in the Qing Dynasty administrative district for which Mt. Jilong marked the border.
This fact can be confirmed in the Qinding Gujin Tushu Jicheng, a collection of maps published in 1728. Before Zhai Kun was sent as an emissary to the Ryukyus in 1808, the maps in that collection showed Mt. Jilong as the northern boundary of Taiwan Prefecture based on the text of the Taiwan Fuzhi. The Daiqing Yitongzhi published in 1744 shows the same thing. This geographical awareness is continued through the era of the Republic of China in the Huangzhao Xuwenxian Tongkao, compiled in 1912, and the Qingshigao of 1927. From the Ming Dynasty, through the Qing Dynasty, to the days of the Republic of China on the mainland, the Senkaku Islets were not part of Taiwan’s territory.
The definitive proof is that on maps showing the sea route when the emissaries were sent to the Ryukyus, the islands of Huapingdao and Pengjiadao were incorporated as part of Taiwan. In the Jilong Shizhi, a report from the city of Jilung in 1951, it is stated that a 1905 reorganization placed Mt. Jilong, Mt. Pengjia, Mt. Mianhua, and Mt. Huaping within the territory of the city of Jilung. The Senkaku Islets are nearly 150 kilometers to the east-northeast of Mt. Huaping, Mt. Pengjia, and Mt. Mianhua. It is self-evident that when the Qing Dynasty took possession of Taiwan in 1684, the governing authority of Taiwan Prefecture extended only to Mt. Jilung.
The Chinese claim that the Senkakus were their territory is vague, lacks a historical basis, and is nothing more than a mistaken impression. The old document that has been declared to present conclusive evidence that the Senkakus are Chinese territory demonstrates, when examined, that the Senkakus were not Chinese territory at all. There are reports an enormous sum was paid for the document to prevent the Japanese from destroying this “conclusive evidence”, but we don’t want to destroy the evidence showing the Senkakus were not Chinese territory.
In recent years China has become emotional about the Senkakus issue, and it has built up its military capabilities, intimidating other countries. That is the height of folly, because neither China nor Taiwan has any historical basis enabling it to claim the islets. Ignoring those historical facts, Japan’s Democratic Party government assigned about 100 members of a coastal surveillance team to Yonaguni Island near the Senkakus on 21 November to use radar for detecting Chinese ships and aircraft, while deliberations were ongoing regarding the National Defense Program Guidelines. To counter this move, the Chinese immediately dispatched two fishing patrol vessels to the area near the Senkakus, sailing for many hours near Japanese territorial waters.
An extreme overreaction of this type is not a wise choice. It is not too late for the Chinese to reexamine their awareness of history and discover the errors before both Japan and China become emotional. As with South Korea, which continues to illegally occupy Takeshima with no historical basis, China does not offer a historical ground for their assertion that the Senkakus belong to them.
Since the Democratic Party took power in Japan, the country’s diplomacy has been thrown into confusion, amplifying the instability of East Asia as a whole. While the lack of ability of the people in leadership positions in the DPJ administration is one factor, the LDP too, which had reigned as the ruling party until then, had a negative approach to resolving territorial issues.
What the people seek from politicians is the assurance of national sovereignty and stability in their daily lives. Part of the territory of postwar Japan has been invaded by neighboring countries, and this situation remains unresolved after more than half a century. Such a situation is tantamount to slavery. While we live contentedly in conditions of slavery, the political dramas of past and present only for the dogged pursuit of the seat of power have been a disgrace. If neither the DPJ nor the LDP has the wisdom to recover our national sovereignty after repeated invasions, they should promptly quit the political stage.
- Shimojo Masao