AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

The words behind the words

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, October 7, 2012

A report from the Wedge Infinity website describes a conversation between former Japanese Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai during their summit on 27 September 1972. Tanaka suddenly asked:

“What do you think about the Senkaku islets?”

This startled the Japanese diplomats in attendance. The Foreign Ministry insisted then, as it does now, that the islands weren’t in dispute after the Chinese took it into their heads just the year before to claim that the islets were theirs after all. Zhou replied:

“I don’t want to talk about it during this meeting. It’s not a good idea to talk about it. This became a problem only because oil was discovered there.”

Foreign Ministry sources now think the transcript of that meeting is useful for the Japanese. One said:

“He admitted that the Chinese claim to the territory arose for the first time only because of oil…We should release the transcripts to the public.”

The Chinese have a different view:

“Even though Japan has actual control, the fact that Tanaka was the one to bring up the subject is an admission that a territorial dispute exists, and that both prime ministers agreed to shelve discussions on the issue.”

They also like to use a statement by Deng Xiaoping when he visited Japan in 1978. He too suggested shelving discussions, which the Chinese insist shows there was the mutual recognition of a dispute:

“We lack wisdom. Perhaps the next generation will be more clever.”

Japanese diplomats counter by pointing out that just because Deng said something doesn’t mean they agreed with him. Note the Chinese attitude in both examples is that their unilateral declaration = bilateral agreement.

Without reading the rest of the exchange, it seems the Japanese view of the Tanaka-Zhou summit is logical. The Chinese never said a word about the Senkakus until the year before. Tanaka is politely asking, “What’s up with you guys.” Zhou didn’t want to say.

But everyone (in this part of the world) understands what Deng Xiaoping said.

The words were, “We lack wisdom. Perhaps the next generation will be more clever.”

What he really meant was:

“China lacks strength. Perhaps the next generation will be strong enough to take them.”

Taipei Times Op-Ed Time

This op-ed by Dan Bloom in the Taipei Times describes another Chinese map that the New York Times and the Washington Post swallowed whole.

And this one by Prof. Lai Fu-shun in the Department of History at Chinese Culture University suggests that Taiwan cut the malarkey and admit that the Senkakus are Japanese. This excerpt is most interesting:

It should be noted that contemporary Chinese newspapers reported on Japan’s declaration of its occupation of the Diaoyutais in 1885, but the Qing Dynasty government did not raise any objection either at the time of Japan’s declaration or thereafter.

Compare that with the Shaw Han-yi assertion in Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times column that Japan kept their claim on the QT.

*****
Shima Uta means “Island Song”.

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