Japan from the inside out

Posts Tagged ‘Okinawa’

All you have to do is look (139)

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, December 16, 2012

Martial arts performance offered as thanks for a bountiful harvest every summer in Ishigaki, Okinawa. The Senkaku islets are part of Ishigaki.

Posted in Festivals, Martial arts, Photographs and videos | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Dead to rights

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, November 7, 2012

AN earlier post explained that Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Toru wanted to eliminate the city’s funding for the Osaka Human Rights Museum. He was able to achieve that objective not long ago. Here’s the report on his success from the Yonhap news agency of South Korea, put into English.

Right-wing Japanese politician and Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Toru said he will close down the Osaka Human Rights Museum, a comprehensive museum on human rights that includes displays on discrimination of Korean citizens born in Japan (zainichi).

According to the Kyodo news agency, Mayor Hashimoto, the head of the national Japan Restoration Party, announced his intention at a news conference to shut the museum and convert the facility into one providing education on modern history to young children.

Established in 1985, the museum has operated on admission fees, donations, and subsidies from the city of Osaka. The city will end the subsidies this year.

The Osaka Human Rights Museum has discrimination-related exhibits, primarily involving Japan, including those about the burakumin (Japan’s old “untouchable caste”). The comprehensive facility also has displays about discrimination against the zainichi.

Mayor Hashimoto’s view is that the museum could harm Japan’s image now that discrimination of this sort has been eliminated in the country, it is not desirable to continue supporting the museum with city funds, and that the museum has to be eliminated through a structural reorganization.

But residents who live near the museum, citizens’ groups, and people of conscience have objected, saying the decision is a reflection of Mayor Hashimoto’s right-wing views.

In regard to education in Japanese history, Mayor Hashimoto has said that “modern history is very weak”, which is “an evil resulting from having entrusted this education to the Ministry of Education.”

* Yes, this is what the South Korean news agency thinks is a straight news article. “Right wing”. “People of conscience”.

Then again, they’re in plenty of bad company with the Associated Press and Reuters.

* “Right-wingers” presumably aren’t interested in human rights and lack a conscience. That’s only a left-wing thing. Except they’ll self-identify as “moderates” instead.

Perhaps the Yonhappers actually believe this. Perhaps they’re using the functional definition of “right wing” as South Koreans apply it to the Japanese — those people unwilling to eternally prostrate themselves at their feet in obeisance to the Joseon history fun house mirror.

Or perhaps they’re using the functional defintion of “right wing” that most of the world’s mass media use: Society’s new untouchable caste.

* Yonhap couldn’t squeeze into its limited space the information that Mr. Hashimoto’s father’s family were probably burakumin, everyone in Japan knows it, and the people of Osaka voted for him anyway.

* The news agency does not disguise their real interest (apart from general Japan bashing): Advocacy of the zainichi, who, after all, intentionally choose to be foreigners in the country where they were born. Ein volk and all that.

* How hard can it be to report the truth? Today’s Japanese are tired of wearing the hair shirt before the world to atone for behavior they had nothing to do with. Too hard for Yonhap, evidently.

* There is nary a whisper of the fiscal crisis facing the national government and all local governments in Japan. The public sector can no longer afford luxury goods, especially those whose objective is to promote the professionally aggrieved who delight in the opportunity to show us how wonderful they are by showing us how terrible everyone else is and make some money while they’re at it.

Nor do they mention Mr. Hashimoto’s willingness to take on other interest groups and labor unions to bring some sanity to the city’s finances.

That said, a museum of modern history for children is also a luxury good. Mr. Hashimoto would be better off just cutting the funding and establishing his political identity through different means. He’s had no problem finding other ways to do that so far. It’s not his business if the museum is capable of surviving without government money.

* The museum still exists, as does its Japanese-language website. The first half of the top page is now occupied by an appeal for money. That appeal contains a passage worth translating:

“But our response to the complete elimination of the subsidies (asking for financial contributions) is not done in a negative sense. We hope to achieve self-sufficient operation by taking this opportunity to join with everyone to establish our financial autonomy and to devote even more strength to developing the museum in a positive way. In other words, our concept is to have a museum that is supported by people with an interest in human rights.”

By jingo, I think they’ve got it!

Posted in Foreigners in Japan, Government, Mass media, South Korea | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

War memorial

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, November 4, 2012

SOME people memorialize wars by prolonging the anger as long as possible, all the better to infect the innocent of younger generations with the same poison. Within that sickness, there is one benefit: It provides an artificial sense of meaning and life to people unable to find it in more productive activities.

But there are better memorials, and one of them was demonstrated in Itoman, Okinawa, on Saturday last week. The prefectural branch of Mindan, the South Korea-affiliated organization for Japanese-born Korean citizens, and the prefecture’s Japan-Korea Friendship Association held a commemorative ceremony at the Mabuni War Memorial for those Koreans who died in Okinawa during the Second World War. About 100 people attended.

Said the Mindan representative: “It is our responsibility to prevent the memories from fading and to never again wage war.” The chairman of the friendship association expressed similar sentiments: “It is our wish that the lessons of war be conveyed forever to the future, and for lasting peace to extend from Okinawa to the world.”

The event featured three performances of music and dance. One performer was Terukina Choichi, a national living treasure (an official designation) who played Nakafu-bushi on the sanshin. Here is his recording of it with Kinjo Kumiko singing.

Matsuda Akane performed the Karaya-bushi dance with a short song. The reports say the dance has Korean elements, but they weren’t specified. Also called the Moon Viewing Dance, the 450-year-old song-and-dance originates in a story told about a Chinese man who came to Okinawa and began to make roof tiles. This was a new technology for the Okinawans, and they were so impressed the King asked him to stay. He agreed on the condition that he be allowed to marry a woman who had caught his fancy.

She was already married, but when a king speaks, commoners listen, so she had no choice in the matter. The lyrics of the song are about climbing to the top of the roof, standing on the tiles, and looking to the south. The singer can see the inlet, but she cannot see her town; i.e., her husband.

This seems to have been a true story. They know where the Chinese man built his kiln on top of a hill. This hill:

Here’s the dance:

Finally, Kim Sun-ja performed the traditional salpuri dance. That’s her in the photo at the top of the post. Salpuri originated in the southwest part of the Korean Peninsula, and was performed to send the spirits of the deceased who can’t let go of this world to the world beyond. It has shamanistic aspects.

Here’s an idea: Apply that sentiment to those memories of the war which keep the poison circulating.

And here’s the salpuri:

Posted in South Korea, Traditions, World War II | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

Three articles

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, October 31, 2012

THIS post consists of excerpts from three newspaper articles whose importance is self-evident. They require little additional comment from me. I present them here to contribute to their greater circulation.

1. Pork in the name of the public good

The first article is a classic case of the blind pig finding a root. It was published by the Associated Press, and unlike most of their product these days, it’s actually worth reading. The title is Japan spent rebuilding money on unrelated projects. Who’d have thought! Well, anyone who’s followed the story of stimulus expenditures in the United States for the past few years, but I digress. Here we go:

About a quarter of the $148 billion budget for reconstruction after Japan’s March 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster has been spent on unrelated projects, including subsidies for a contact lens factory and research whaling.

The findings of a government audit buttress complaints over shortcomings and delays in the reconstruction effort. More than half the budget is yet to be disbursed, stalled by indecision and bureaucracy, while nearly all of the 340,000 people evacuated from the disaster zone remain uncertain whether, when and how they will ever resettle.

Many of the non-reconstruction-related projects loaded into the 11.7 trillion yen ($148 billion) budget were included on the pretext they might contribute to Japan’s economic revival, a strategy that the government now acknowledges was a mistake.

Some people in Japan were aware this was happening from the start. They noticed that the commission appointed by the Democratic Party government to formulate a plan for reconstruction and recovery issued a report containing recommendations for programs that were cut-and-pasted from previous ministry requests.

In Japan, tax-and-spend government is driven primarily by the permanent bureaucracy rather than the politicians. The latter are either the enablers or the lobbyists for the ministries with which they are associated.

The only drawback to the AP article is the now-standard and usually unnecessary addition of comments from academics to buttress their point. They often miss the point entirely:

Masahiro Matsumura, a politics professor at St. Andrews University in Osaka, Japan, said justifying such misuse by suggesting the benefits would “trickle down” to the disaster zone is typical of the political dysfunction that has hindered Japan’s efforts to break out of two decades of debilitating economic slump.

“This is a manifestation of government indifference to rehabilitation. They are very good at making excuses,” Matsumura told The Associated Press.

This is really a manifestation of the inexorable and inevitable expansion of the public sector in any country. Give them the power to print and spend money, and they’ll work overtime to find ways to print and spend money. It’s not clear whether Prof. Matsumura was referring to the political class or the bureaucracy when he referred to “government”, because the word in this case applies to either or both.

Prime Minister Noda promised that unrelated projects would be “wrung out” of the budget, but his two DPJ predecessors, Hatoyama Yukio and Kan Naoto, made the same promises. Mr. Kan went so far as to say the budgets would be held upside down to shake out extra money until they got a nosebleed. That didn’t stop either of them from presenting and passing record-high budgets with record-high deficits. If anyone’s nose bled, they weren’t part of the public sector.

And Mr. Noda voted aye for those budgets, as well as this reconstruction budget. He didn’t know what was in it? He didn’t understand that they were wasting money?

But to ask the questions are to answer them.

2. Self-congratulation

The New York Times is congratulating itself for its recent expose of the finances of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jibao and his family. The Times’ article charges that they’ve stashed away upwards of $US 2.7 billion. This post at the China Digital Times website quotes an article written for the Times’ sister-in-arms, the Guardian of Britain, that explains how wonderful it is the Gray Lady is practicing journalism again:

The Times’ story, by David Barboza, is the type of journalism that not only catches the powerful in flagrante delicto, but that revivifies the paper’s reason for being. This has not been a kind few years for the Times, with its management, its journalism, and its prospects, under constant and more often than not unflattering scrutiny. But a story like this is something of an instant brand turnaround.

The New York Times took on China and, in the first round, won. This being China, the Times will, surely, be engaged in a constant battle going forward – even, perhaps, a confrontation that defines the sides in some new international press battle. That will, no doubt, be to its short term economic disadvantage. But that is good news for the Times, too.

[…] The Times released dismal earnings yesterday and its stock dropped by more than 20%. But its real value took an incalculable leap today.

In other words, they think it was a triumph of investigative journalism.

But other people suspect they were being used as a mouthpiece. From the Epoch Times:

Controversy continues to simmer around last week’s lengthy New York Times exposé of the US$2.7 billion fortune that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s family is said to have amassed. Critics have said the story was planted by Wen Jiabao’s political foes, while the New York Times has defended the integrity of the story.

In an Oct. 29 blog post, the Times reporter, David Barboza, addressed head on the claim that the story might have been given to him:

“I have read the speculation that some ‘insider’ gave me information, or that some enemies of the prime minister dropped off a huge box of documents at my office,” Barboza wrote. “That never happened. Not only were there no leaked documents, I never in the course of reporting met anyone who offered or hinted that they had documents related to the family holdings. This was a paper trail of publicly available documents that I followed with my own reporting.”

You can believe that, or you can believe this:

On Oct. 30, the Chinese website of the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle claimed Barboza would have had difficulty getting information about who are the members of Wen’s family, information needed in order to track the family members’ appearance in corporate documents:

“The head of a Chinese media outlet that reports on business who used to be an experienced investigative reporter told Deutsche Welle Chinese that information about family members for common Chinese can be found by checking the household register information.

“However, this household register system maintains strict confidentiality for information for Chinese Communist Party officials with rank above the provincial level. It is very difficult to obtain the names of the family members for a person who is a member of Politburo Standing Committee. Therefore, the NY Times should have gotten some kind of assistance, which could even be a systematic set of materials.”

New Tang Dynasty’s political commentator Wen Zhao commenting on the NY Times story said, “I don’t think this is something a private investigation or media outlet is capable of doing in China. No doubt about it, this kind of thorough investigation can only be conducted by people who control the secret police or secret agents in China.”

Their point is that the neo-Maoist, anti-reform hardliners in China associated with former President Jiang Zemin funneled the information to the Times as part of the ongoing political struggle in that country.

Whether that’s true or not — and we’re never going to know — the idea that people would use of the New York Times as an international mouthpiece is plausible. I’ve read articles in that newspaper about Japan that I would bet cash money were nothing more than rewritten talking points e-mailed by the DPJ government. Some of the information in those articles bore so little resemblance to actual conditions that it was risible.

3. China on the march

The final section is a compilation of of pieces. The first is a translation of a Yomiuri Shimbun article that appeared on the Web today. Here it is in its entirety:

Five Chinese Surveillance Ships in the Contiguous Waters of the Senkakus — For 12 Straight Days

Four Chinese maritime surveillance ships and one fishing surveillance ship entered the contiguous waters (22 kilometers) around the Senkaku islets yesterday morning. They continue to warn Japanese Coast Guard ships not to approach their territorial waters. This is the 12th straight day that Chinese surveillance ships have entered the contiguous waters.

The 11th District Coast Guard headquarters in Naha reported that four Chinese ships entered Japanese territorial waters on the morning of the 30th. After leaving in the afternoon, they remained in the contiguous waters. As of 9:00 a.m. on the 31st, the four ships were 31-33 kilometers to the southeast, while the fishery patrol boat was 28 kilometers northwest of Kubajima and headed in a south-southwesterly direction.

A Sankei Shimbun article yesterday provided a few more details:

One of the surveillance ships used an electronic bulletin board to transmit messages in Japanese and Chinese that read, “Your ship has entered Chinese territorial waters. Leave at once.”

Compared to some in the Anglosphere, the Japanese media is rather subdued. Try this piece from yesterday in the Financial Times (that might require registration).

The Chinese State Oceanic Administration – which enforces the nation’s maritime interests – said four of its ships on Tuesday tried to expel Japanese vessels out of waters where they were operating “illegally”.


Last month, Beijing announced a territorial baseline for the disputed islands that defined the exact geographical location of its claimed territory to back its long-standing claim.

“Chinese government vessels did not chase Japanese boats out of the islands’ territorial waters in the past, as these waters were an area controlled by the Japanese coastguard,” said Li Guoqiang, an expert on border issues at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “But the situation changed when we created a legal basis for enforcing our claim by announcing the territorial baseline for the islands in September.”

It concludes:

Mr Li said the Chinese government was still restraining itself and would not lightly add to the tension. “But if the Japanese don’t change their ways and return to the path of negotiation, such friction could increase,” he said. “Then, it would not be a question of just four vessels but many more.”

On the one hand, it could be argued that the Japanese consider this to be Chinese bluster and see no need to make a big deal of it. On the other hand, it could also be argued that they are downplaying the situation to prevent the public from demanding that its government grow a made-in-Japan backbone.

In either case, it’s clear that the Chinese are engaging in international outlawry, are arrogant enough to press the legitimacy of this approach for their bogus claim overseas, and don’t seem concerned at all about what the United States might do.

The situation has the potential to become very ugly.

Posted in China, Government, International relations, Mass media, Military affairs, Politics | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

The only surprise is that they’re surprised

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, October 30, 2012

TO the extent anyone talks about it, people tend to present the Okinawan independence movement as more significant a factor in public opinion than the reality might warrant. This post from February 2007 contains the results of a survey conducted by the University of the Ryukyus:

The Okinawa Residents’ Identity Survey 2006 discovered that 78% of those Okinawans surveyed between the ages of 18 and 24 were opposed to independence. That’s more than 10 percentage points higher than the total of 65% for all respondents. The people favoring independence gave as their primary reason the difference in political, economic, and social conditions from the rest of Japan, as well as a different historical experience. The foremost reason for those opposed was that Okinawa did not have the capability to be independent.

When asked about their identity, 57% of the young people said they were both Okinawan and Japanese, a far higher total than the 40% figure for the entire population. Just 20% considered themselves Okinawan only, substantially less than the overall total of 30%.

My experience over the years with Okinawan students in the two university English classes I teach every spring bears this out. They are not clannish, and they are impossible to identify by observing their behavior, interaction with other students, or speech. As far as they and the other students are concerned, they are Japanese in every way, but with a heightened sense of regional identity.

I haven’t seen any news of that sort since the 2006 survey, but the events over the past five years are starting to make me wonder if there have been any changes. Okinawa, a small island chain, is still the home to 74% of all the American bases in Japan. The rest of Japan doesn’t want the Americans in their back yards. It isn’t easy to coexist with foreign troops in limited space, even if they do provide a reliable source of employment.

Then there’s the fact that it is part of the job of soldiers to behave like soldiers. That means jet fighters screeching overhead at all hours, and (according to one of my students) drills being conducted in public places that become off limits to the residents. The islanders were thrilled to award their votes to the Democratic Party of Japan when it promised that the Futenma base would be moved out of the prefecture, and ideally out of the country. It is not difficult to imagine their disillusionment and disgust when it soon became apparent that Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio was going to break that promise throughout a six-month charade when he claimed he was trying to come up with an acceptable solution. His term in office ended shortly after the promise did.

Yet despite all this, some Japanese outside Okinawa still have difficulty understanding what’s on people’s minds. Earlier this month, the Nishinippon Shimbun ran a special feature on the 56th National Roundtable Discussion on Ethics conducted by a national association of newspapers, broadcasters, and magazines in late September. This conference was held this year in Naha to mark the 40th anniversary of the return of Okinawa to Japan, and its theme was “Japan today and media responsibility”. The primary topic of debate was Japan’s security structure and its excessive reliance on Okinawa.

According to the feature, they were shocked at the response of Okinawans and what they termed the locals’ distrust of the rest of Japan, all because of the base issue. Said the newspaper:

We were jolted by what we heard repeated many times during the conference, such as “There is no democracy in Okinawa, ” and “Forcing the bases on us is structural discrimination.” This compelled reporters who seldom cover stories in Okinawa to start over with a clean slate in their thinking.

The keynote address was given by former Gov. Ota Masahide, now 87. He was an academic by profession before serving two terms as governor, and he also served in Japan’s upper house. Here are some of the excerpts from his address quoted in the newspaper:

“People are now seriously reexamining one issue in Okinawa — just what was the return to Japan all about? Was the return a good thing?”

“Okinawa was not returned under the terms of the Peace Constitution. It was returned under the terms of the Japan-U.S. security structure.”

“Democracy is an excellent system, but, ironically, Okinawa will be subject to discrimination by the majority forever. There is a structural discrimination.”

And about the deployment of the Osprey:

“You (reporters) shouldn’t be going on about the safety of the Osprey, which is the point you’re emphasizing. You just don’t understand that we don’t need any more bases or any more aircraft.”

Of course there are caveats. Mr. Ota once alluded to what he called “the impossible dream”, by which he means independence, and he is part of the generation most likely to favor it. He was unaffiliated with a political party during his term as governor, but he was considered a politician of the left. He is associated now with the Social Democrats, who are so far out on the political limb it’s a wonder it didn’t snap off years ago.

But he’s been making these points for years, and many people agree with him. If the average Japanese journalist is still being surprised by of local discontent after all this time, and after all the coverage the Futenma issue received during the Hatoyama administration, the Okinawans well deserve to be chuffed.

Decentralization and disorder are the trends of the age. Separatist movements are gaining momentum in Europe. People are even starting to wonder in print if the United States can hang together. If the “mainlanders” remain obtuse and the younger generation in Okinawa starts to warm up to the ideas of Mr. Ota, the rest of Japan need only look in the mirror to see where the fault lies.

Posted in Military affairs, Social trends | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

All you have to do is look (86)

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A recreation of the Yonabaru Otsunahiki in Okinawa, one of the country’s three biggest tug-of-war festivals, was held last month in Osaka’s Taisho-ku, where one-fourth of the residents have family ties to Okinawa. It was held to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the return of Okinawa to Japan and the 80th anniversary of the ward’s incorporation. About 8,000 people watched as another 1,400 pulled a rope that was 90 meters long, two meters thick, and weighed five tons.

Posted in Festivals, Photographs and videos | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The New World Disorder

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sekimon Forest on Hahajima, the second-largest of the Ogasawara Islands

Now, we can see a new world coming into view. A world in which there is the very real prospect of a new world order. In the words of Winston Churchill, a “world order” in which “the principles of justice and fair play … protect the weak against the strong …” A world where the United Nations, freed from cold war stalemate, is poised to fulfil the historic vision of its founders. A world in which freedom and respect for human rights find a home among all nations.

– George H.W. Bush, 6 March 1991

IF the new world described by Bush the Elder ever came into view, it just as quickly receded from sight and was swallowed up by the darkness as the train of events sped through the night. Today’s new disordered world is the outward manifestation of disordered minds. Here’s a brief look at three disordered mindsets fixated on Japan that appeared in the East Asian media recently.


The Chosun Ilbo of South Korea earlier this month interviewed a Col. Kim (name not provided in Chinese characters) about his campaign claiming that the Japanese island of Tsushima should be part of South Korea. Even some Koreans think this is over the top, and the interviewer started the piece by quoting Prime Minister Kim Huang-shik:

“Even if there are historical grounds, claiming at this point that Tsushima is Korean territory lacks persuasiveness.”

Col. Kim is undeterred, however. Here’s the interview.

Q: Are you intentionally focusing on Tsushima as a way to resolve the Dokdo issue?

K: I am arguing from the premise that there is objective information verifying Tsushima as Korean territory. Japan knows this fact. They are being more firm than necessary about Dokdo to hide Tsushima.

Q: There are probably many historical documents that say Tsushima is South Korean territory. But there are also many documents and maps that are just as legitimate stating it is Japanese territory.

K: That’s right…Tsushima county appears on a governmental map of Gyeongnam Province from the 19th century. But the basis of my assertion is not these old maps or documents.

Q: What do you think is the decisive material?

K: Immediately after Japan’s opening to the outside world, the United States discovered the uninhabited island of Ogasawara (part of what are called the Bonin Islands in English) in the Pacific about 1,000 kilometers from the Japanese mainland. A dispute broke out between the two countries because the United States attempted to incorporate it as its own territory. At that time, the Japanese produced a map they had made of their country (1785) showing the islands.

Q: Japan had already prepared such a map?

K: It was made by Hayashi Shihei, who became aware of Japanese sovereignty issues early on. He wrote that Japan should incorporate into its own territory the uninhabited islands around the country with a view to maritime defense. He also wrote that Japan should conquer Korea and expand its territory as a means of national defense. He was the originator of the idea of conquering Korea. Hayashi surveyed Japan and the surrounding area and made five maps.

Q: During the discussions over territory, did the US give up its claim after seeing the maps?

K: The American government insisted that the Japanese version of Hayashi’s map was not objective proof. The Shogunate, in a bind, knew there was a translated French version of Hayashi’s map. They were able to conclude the negotiations successfully using this map as evidence. That map lists Tsushima as Korean territory. That was on the map that Japan used to for its territorial negotiations with the United States.

Q: Have you seen this map?

K: On the hand-drawn maps discovered until now, Dokdo was shown as Korean territory and Tsushima as Japanese territory. Prof. Hosaka Yuji, a naturalized Korean citizen (and head of Sejong University’s Dokdo Research Center) says that because this information appears on an internationally recognized map, it is decisive proof that Dokdo is Korean territory. But what we have overlooked is that (the French) map also shows Tsushima as Korean territory.

Q: This is a contradiction. Didn’t you just say that the hand-drawn maps show Tsushima as Japanese territory?

K: That’s right. But it’s very likely that all the hand-drawn maps are phony. Several years ago, a search at the special Dokdo display area in Room 2006 of the National Assembly library turned up an original copy of the French map. The color for Tsushima was the same color used for Korea. I believe that is the original map.

Q: I do not think it is logical to unilaterally claim that a map showing Tsushima as Korean territory is the original and maps showing otherwise are forgeries.

K: According to the records, a Dutchman brought one copy of the Hayashi map back to Europe in 1806. A European scholar of the Far East (name unidentifiable due to the Japanese spelling) used the map to survey the area, and after he returned, made the French map in 1832. The French map in the National Assembly library is indeed that map. An old document collector donated it to the library.

The interviewer followed up that conversation by speaking to the collector, named Han, over the phone. Han said the map was published in 1832, and he bought it in Australia in the early 1980s. But the interviewer also included his statement: “There are doubts that Tsushima can be claimed to be Korean territory just because it is the same yellow color as Korea.”


1. Col. Kim is not the first Korean to enjoy using the story about Ogasawara and the Hayashi maps for territorial claims. Unfortunately for them, as this source indicates, the American government was never interested in the Bonin Islands. Commodore Perry of Black Ship fame wanted his country to incorporate them, but they ignored him. The British were more keen, but backed off. The Japanese government says they have no records that the Shogunate ever negotiated with the Americans about the islands.

2. The Hayashi maps have never been “internationally recognized”, other than to the extent that they are internationally recognized for containing many inaccuracies regarding territory other than the four main Japanese islands.

3. Prof. Hosaka was born and raised in a zainichi neighborhood in Japan, and may or may not have been one himself. He married a Korean woman, became a naturalized citizen, and is often quoted in Korean newspapers for his support of the Korean side in territorial issues. His MO seems to be to speculate about the real meaning of documents and maps that are unclear, draw conclusions based on those speculations, and then cite the documents and maps as “definite proof”.

Okinawa and Japan itself

An article appeared in the 12 October edition of the weekly Shukan Post about the Chinese application of Sinocentric Culturalism to Okinawa and the rest of Japan. It starts with this excerpt from a paid advertisement in the Apple Daily of Hong Kong:

“During our time of powerlessness, we of the Chinese race heard the sorrow of our Ryukyu compatriots across the distant sea. But now, the Chinese race has become your powerful allies. These are the tears of the mother who gave you birth. O, Chinese Ryukyus!”

Explains an unidentified journalist in China:

“Chinese youth in recent years have passionately supported the idea of a restoration of the Ryukyu kingdom. Many Chinese think the Ryukyus are part of China. For them, the concept of the Chinese race denotes those people who live in places influenced by Chinese civilization. Okinawa was once the independent Ryukyu Kingdom, and after the Satsuma attack of 1609, paid tribute to the Qing Dynasty. They bring out that historical fact to claim that the Ryukyus are part of China…

“…Not only that, the Chinese who support Ryukyu independence go so far as to assert that the earliest ancestors of the Japanese are the Chinese who traveled to the Japanese archipelago from the continent in search of the elixir of eternal life as ordered by the first Qin emperor (second century BC).”

The magazine says that the idea of supporting Ryukyu independence spread on the net in China after the incident in 2010 in which the Chinese fishing boat captain rammed two Japanese coast guard ships. They then offer another excerpt from the advertisement:

“The Yamato race is part of the Chinese race, and Japanese are originally of Chinese blood…Until Japan is restored as part of the “China – Great Peace Family” (中華一大平和家族), entrust to Taiwan Province the maintenance of security and the development of the Diaoyutai and the Ryukyus, which are part of China.”

The name of the group that paid for the ad roughly translates to The Preparatory Committee for the Ryukyu Special Administrative Region of the Chinese Race. (Hong Kong is also classified as a special administrative region.) The group was formed late in 2010 after the incident. That’s one of their ads in the photo above. “Liuqiu” is the Romanization for what the Chinese call the Ryukyus.

Jackie Chan

The political opinions and statements of East Asian film stars can be just as disordered as those of their Western counterparts. The Record China website (a Japanese-language site offering news about China) quoted excerpts from a news conference with Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan on 2 October. Here’s some of what he said.

* “The Senkaku islands were Chinese, historically…judging from my perspective, we should ask the country that snatched someone else’s property to return it.”

* ”If I were Superman, I would pull the islands nearer China.“

* “Vladivostok should be returned to China and the Northern Territories (four Russian-held islands) to Japan.”

The Superman comment didn’t impress everyone in China. Retorted one person on the Net:

“The Senkakus are over there, which enables us to obtain territorial waters and undersea resources. They wouldn’t have any meaning if they were closer to the coast.”

It appears that someone in China understands the point of the Chinese claim better than Jackie Chan.

Chan’s stuck his foot in his mouth before. He once made a reference to Taiwan and Hong Kong as being out of control because they had too much freedom, so they needed to be managed by Chinese people. And this one didn’t please his Chinese fans:

“If you want to buy a TV, buy a Japanese product. Chinese TVs blow up.”


The Chinese knew Vladivostok as Haishenwei when it was part of some of their dynastic empires. Russia snatched it in 1860 in the Treaty of Beijing because the Qing Dynasty couldn’t defend itself. The two countries later fought over it.

Those with the eyes to see should now have sufficient evidence to be aware that we live in a state of New World Disorder that the presumed ruling elites are incapable of reordering. Indeed, they’re contributing to the disorder.

People are marching with swastika armbands in Greece, youth unemployment in Spain is approaching 50%, some are speculating that the French economy will be the next to blow, and the Eurocrats have congratulated themselves on their success by awarding themselves the Nobel Peace Prize. Daniel Hannan explains what they don’t want to see:

“Jamming peoples into a single state against their will is rarely conducive to either democracy or goodwill. It didn’t work for the Habsburgs, the Ottomans or the Soviets. Those polities survived only when they were police states. The moment their constituent peoples were free to choose, they opted for independence.”

The Russians have announced they will withdraw from an agreement with the United States to dismantle nuclear and chemical weapons. Known as the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program in the US, it had twice been renewed by both parties. But here’s Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov:

“The agreement doesn’t satisfy us, especially considering new realities.”

One of the new realities of the New World Disorder is that the Chinese no longer feel the need to disguise their intention to carve off some, or all, of Japan for themselves, and that some South Koreans are interested in snatching the scraps off the table while warily eyeing the Chinese.

The Japanese Constitution that the Americans so thoughtfully wrote for them long ago and far away in a world that no longer exists entrusts national security to “the peace-loving peoples of the world”. It effectively outsources national defense to the U.S.

That doesn’t look like a viable proposition right now. The U.S. is itself outsourcing the defense of its own installations located in a more disordered part of the world:

“The State Department outsourced security for the Benghazi consulate to Blue Mountain, a Welsh firm that hires ex-British and Commonwealth Special Forces, among the toughest hombres on the planet. The company’s very name comes from the poem “The Golden Journey To Samarkand,” whose words famously adorn the regimental headquarters of Britain’s Special Air Service in Hereford. Unfortunately, the one-year contract for consulate security was only $387,413 – or less than the cost of deploying a single U.S. soldier overseas. On that budget, you can’t really afford to fly in a lot of crack SAS killing machines, and have to make do with the neighborhood talent pool. So who’s available? Blue Mountain hired five members of the Benghazi branch of the February 17th Martyrs’ Brigade and equipped them with handcuffs and batons…There were supposed to be four men heavily armed with handcuffs on duty that night, but, the date of Sept. 11 having no particular significance in the Muslim world, only two guards were actually on shift…So, on the first anniversary of 9/11 in a post-revolutionary city in which Western diplomats had been steadily targeted over the previous six months, the government of the supposedly most powerful nation on Earth entrusted its security to Abdulaziz Majbari, 29, and his pal, who report to some bloke back in Carmarthen, Wales.”

Perhaps one reason the United States is cutting corners on defense expenditures is that it’s as broke as a country has ever been. Meanwhile, the man who did most of the heavy lifting to make it that broke is running for reelection.

The U.S. is faced with a worldwide reset inimical to its interests and skyrocketing debt at home, but it has yet to demonstrate the capability for dealing with either problem. It will have a presidential election in a little more than three weeks, and the principals are holding televised debates. The current president behaved like the empty chair of his caricature during the first one. In the next one, the current vice-president thought the proper way to discuss pressing issues with the American public was to conduct himself like a barroom buffoon. A not-insignificant number of Americans thought that was exactly what he needed to do.

Those with the eyes to see now know that the United States has been in a state of low-level civil war for some years, and that the civil war will continue to occupy the country for the foreseeable future. If the current government receives another four-year term, the world disorder will become more severe. If it is replaced, the party now in government will devote its primary energies as the opposition to preventing the new government from addressing the disorderliness, assuming that the new government is capable of it.

Japan can also see the new realities that the Russians see. They will increasingly wonder if a bankrupt and disorderly America will uphold an agreement it signed in a long-dead era to defend Japan from external aggression. We all know what conclusions they will draw — everyone one else is drawing the same ones.

It might be a lot sooner than anyone thinks that Japan gets wise, realizes that it’s on its own, and takes the steps required to defend itself.

The noise level from people outside the country opposing those steps will be in direct proportion to the level of the need for those steps to begin with.

Posted in China, Government, International relations, Military affairs, Russia, South Korea | Tagged: , , | 14 Comments »

Ichigen koji (197)

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, October 14, 2012

– A person who has something to say about everything

The Chinese invasion is now occurring in the present tense. The massacres of Tibetans, Uighurs, and southern Mongolians will of course reach Japan too. The Chinese Communist Party justifies Chinese invasions with the term “core national interest”. They apply that term not only to Tibet and Taiwan, but also to the Senkakus and Okinawa.

– Nishimura Koyu

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Gangster logic

Posted by ampontan on Friday, October 12, 2012

THE Chinese news aggregator Sina has a brief article worth reading on the Senkakus dispute. Here’s the topic:

Japan’s Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba said that China began asserting its territorial sovereignty over the islands in the 1970s, suggesting China previously had not viewed the group as part of its territory. He even noted a Chinese map published in 1960 depicted the islet group as “Japanese territory”.

Then they presented Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei’s rebuttal:

This is not the first time that Genba uses garbled material to support Japan’s stance.

All these fabricated stories can only demonstrate that Japan has never had sovereignty over Diaoyu Islands legally, Hong said.


Japan ignores and avoids the facts intentionally. Further, they attempt to legalize the result of Japan’s invasion, which is totally gangster logic, Hong refuted.

Hong closes with the typical insistence that China = correct:

(Japan) should recognize and correct their wrongdoings, and take into account the overall situation of China-Japan relations, Hong added.

It should be apparent whose logic is gangsterish.

Some people once thought that China would become more liberal and open as it grew richer. Perhaps some people still think so. But we’re at the point of willful ignorance with that one.

Other people think China’s rise to prominence is bound to cause serious problems for everyone else.

It’s worse than they think.

Posted in China, International relations | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Ichigen koji (194)

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, October 11, 2012

– A person who has something to say about everything

Some South Koreans say “Tsushima is South Korean territory”, but there are whackjobs in every country. That alone is not a threat. But when China says, “Okinawa is Chinese”, that’s a real threat. In that sense, South Korea and China are different. Shelving the Takeshima issue and shelving the Senkakus issue have different meanings. That’s the point from which we must start.

– Baba Masahiro

South Korean demonstrators in August. One of the slogans on the sign reads “Daemado (Tsushima) is our land).” Another opposes Japanese “rearmament”. The statue at the rear is of first South Korean president Yi Seung-man, who unsuccessfully lobbied the Allies to include Tsushima as Korean territory after the war.

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Ichigen koji (191)

Posted by ampontan on Monday, October 8, 2012

– A person who has something to say about everything

Kurihara Hiroyuki (65) was the owner of three of the Senkaku islets until he sold them to his older brother in 2002. The weekly Shukan Asahi interviewed him for their 12 October issue to ask about the circumstances of his family’s sale of the islets to the Japanese government.

Q: What do you think about the anti-Japan demonstrations in China and the cancellation of the events commemorating the 40th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China relations?

KH: I thought they might last a little longer, so the convergence of all the demonstrations was unexpected. The domestic backdrop in China is the discord caused by the gap between rich and poor and the anti-Japan education conducted by the government. If this escalates, the dissatisfaction will be directed at their own government. That’s a multi-ethnic state, so its breakup will come quickly. Regardless of their efforts to prevent it, that should happen in about 10 years.

Q: The negotiations for the sale of the islands to the Tokyo Metro District took a sudden turn. Why were they sold to the national government? Was the JPY 2.05 billion price the deciding factor?

KH: That wasn’t it at all. There was debate in the upper house from 6-7 September over a bill to promote the “appropriate management” of uninhabited islands in border areas. Article 16 states, “When the national government deems it proper and reasonable to acquire…the land of the islands in question, the land in question may be expropriated in accordance with the provisions of this law.” If the law passes, the government can buy the Senkakus regardless of the wishes of the Kurihara family. The price at that time would not be appropriate.

So, when it came to the last minute, my brother was intimidated by the government. Land expropriation is a sore subject for the Kurihara family. Our family was told before to leave our home in Omiya (now Saitama City). The price offered for the house and land was too low, so my father turned down the offer. We lost our house in 1961 through a subrogation by proxy. That bill was probably also the reason Gov. Ishihara toned down his comments. If the land were expropriated, Okinawa Prefecture would have jurisdiction…

…To tell you the truth, I’m relieved.

The possibility of expropriation by the Japanese government was the least of their worries. The Chinese have intimidated and harassed the family for 30 years, according to family friends. Representatives of the Chinese government persistently called on them with offers to buy the islands. Some of the representatives were gangsterish and threatening. One Chinese agent for a resort company tried to get them to jointly develop the islets as a resort. Another got so pushy, he put JPY 35 billion in cash on the table, and the family had to file a complaint with the police. During his childhood, Hiroyuki’s son was regularly followed home from primary school by men he didn’t know, and as an adult received a call threatening to disrupt his wedding ceremony. There have also been late night calls threatening harm if the islands weren’t sold to China. The remains of dead animals were sometimes tossed onto the family property.

The Kuriharas finally built a high wall around their property with sharp, pointed objects imbedded in the top, and installed surveillance cameras. The reason younger brother Hiroyuki has dealt with the media rather than his older brother, the owner, is that the older brother prefers not to be seen in public.

Said one family member, “We’ve seen a stream of strange and unsavory people over the past 30 years.”

No wonder they’re relieved.

Posted in China, International relations, Quotations | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

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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Ichigen koji (183)

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, September 27, 2012

– A person who has something to say about everything

* Theoretically, the viewpoint of the People’s Daily does not represent the viewpoint of the government.

* The article in the People’s Daily has no legal force.

* Japan objects, objects, and objects. If they believe the People’s Daily that much, how about if we have the People’s Daily run an editorial saying that Japan is the vassal of China?

– The response of some Chinese on the Internet when they discovered that an article in the 8 January 1953 edition of the People’s Daily called the Senkakus by their Japanese name and explained to its readers that they were part of Okinawa.

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Inose Naoki on the Senkakus purchase

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, September 26, 2012

AS the vice-governor of the Tokyo Metro District, Inose Naoki had a behind-the-scenes view of the circumstances when the national government supplanted the Tokyo Metro District to purchase the Senkaku islets.

Twitter is the de facto Japanese blogosphere, and here is a series of six Tweets he recently wrote presenting the Tokyo Metro District’s viewpoint. They’re a bit sketchy owing to the nature of the medium, but they’re still worth reading.

* It’s very risky for the fishermen from Ishigaki to travel to the Senkakus with its abundant fishery resources. They have five-ton ships and 1 watt radios. The Chinese and the Taiwanese operate much larger ships, and they have 10 watt radios. In light of this, Ishigaki Mayor Nakayama Yoshitaka (a former Diet member) asked if it would be possible to build a basin for their ships and a radio tower. Contact with the owner of the Senkakus was possible through upper house member Santo Akiko.

* A message was relayed from Ms. Santo to (Tokyo) Gov. Ishihara. He met with the owner a year ago. The owner said he wanted to transfer the islets before any problems with the inheritance (taxes) arose. Ordinarily, discussions would have started right away, but the situation became as slippery as an eel. There were financial liabilities, but an investigation would soon turn those up. There were also assets, but a look at the balance sheet showed they were worth about JPY 1.0 – 1.5 billion.

* The owner requested a deposit, but that was not possible because of our responsibility to provide explanations to the taxpayers and the procedures based on the rules of democracy. We conveyed our intent to survey the islands and to entrust the matter to the asset valuation council, which would determine an appropriate price. We would also have to ask the assembly to approve the purchase. At just that time, the Noda government approached the owner with a JPY 2.05 billion-plus offer that would ensure him a large profit.

* What was a simple matter of the domestic transfer of title from the owner to the Tokyo Metro District suddenly became a matter of nationalization. If it’s a question of shifting from an annual rental of JPY 25 million to nationalization, then it’s meaningless. When Prime Minister Noda and Gov. Ishihara met, the prime minister thought the ship basin plan was a good idea, and said he would respond soon. But the Foreign Ministry doesn’t listen to the Kantei (PM’s office). The Kantei has no influence at all.

* The Foreign Ministry made an inquiry to the Chinese in some form, but the (Japanese) official didn’t want to create a disadvantage by doing something unnecessary, so he formally withdrew. It was completely beyond me why they were nationalizing the islets for a bundle of money. It just exposed the government’s indecisiveness for everyone to see, including the Chinese. The sense of the word “nationalization” is completely different in China. They just made excuses.

* Allowing the Hong Kong activists to land on the islets was a clear error in judgment by the Noda administration and the Foreign Ministry. Allowing the issue of the territory to become a dispute will result in further escalation. They should have dealt with them before they reached shore. It is not possible to have a discussion with people who say, “The Senkakus are our land, so we’ll attack and loot Japanese corporations.” What remains is the problem of Chinese pride.

Here’s an unrelated update/addendum that’s too short for a regular post, but still deserves mention.

There is a website called Asia Eye, described as the Official Blog of the Project 2049 Institute. They publish a weekly roundup of featurettes with links called Under the Radar. The heading reads, “A weekly compilation of under-reported events in Asia.”

Here’s this week’s lead story in the parade of under the radar, under-reported events in Asia.

The Japanese government’s purchase of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands has sparked violent street protests throughout China as fishing boats were dispatched to the disputed waters to oppose Japan’s nationalization of the contested islands.

To be fair, some, though not all, of the mini-stories are under-reported. Then again, not all of them are Asia-related. Nevertheless, that’s as good a demonstration as any of why I spend so little time reading what the Western Anglosphere has to say about East Asia.

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Yes, it is inconvenient

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, September 22, 2012

ON Thursday, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times presented a guest piece in his On The Ground column by Han-Yi Shaw (original name, Shao Hanyi), a Research Fellow at the Research Center for International Legal Studies at the National Chengchi University in Taiwan.

Mr. Shaw suspects that Japan illegally seized the Senkaku islets from China in 1895 and thinks he can prove it. These islets are at the center of a serious dispute between the two countries. The Japanese government’s purchase of some of the islets from their private Japanese owners caused violent demonstrations throughout China last week.

The Shaw article is titled The Inconvenient Truth Behind the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. That’s apt, because the truth is inconvenient indeed — for Mr. Shaw. His piece is weak, short on facts, long on innuendo, and contains internal contradictions and inaccuracies.

And if that weren’t enough, Mr. Shaw unwittingly demonstrates that he doesn’t follow current events in Japan very closely.

The article is filled with lacunae. Here’s how he starts:

Japan’s recent purchase of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands has predictably reignited tensions amongst China, Japan, and Taiwan. Three months ago, when Niwa Uichiro, the Japanese ambassador to China, warned that Japan’s purchase of the islands could spark an “extremely grave crisis” between China and Japan, Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro slammed Niwa as an unqualified ambassador, who “needs to learn more about the history of his own country”.

Ambassador Niwa was forced to apologize for his remarks and was recently replaced. But what is most alarming amid these developments is that despite Japan’s democratic and pluralist society, rising nationalist sentiments are sidelining moderate views and preventing rational dialogue.

Now here’s what he doesn’t say and what he left out.

The duties of an ambassador do not include giving interviews to foreign publications, in this case the Financial Times, to influence the policies of his government. Their duties are limited to serving in a foreign country as representatives to express their government’s views and policies.

Mr. Niwa also reportedly made several other poorly received statements, including the suggestion that the Age of a Greater China is coming, and that Japan would be better off becoming a Chinese vassal state.

Mr. Shaw might not know that Niwa Uichiro was not a career diplomat. He resigned his position as chairman of Itochu Corp., a large trading company with extensive business interests in China, to become the ambassador.

He neglects to mention that Mr. Niwa was summoned to Tokyo from Beijing to ensure that he would deliver the messages to China that the Japanese government wanted him to deliver, instead of what Niwa Uichiro thought they should say.

I know of no Japanese who publicly called for Mr. Niwa to be retained in his position. Ishihara Shintaro’s criticism had little, if any, impact on the decision.

But one of the points of Mr. Shaw’s piece is to convey the idea that the ultranationalist Ishihara is preventing “rational dialogue” in Japan’s democratic and pluralistic society.

It is an inconvenient truth for Mr. Shaw, however, that public opinion polling shows little support for Mr. Ishihara in national politics. He put his name behind the effort to create the Sunrise Party of Japan for the upper house elections in 2010. It has seven sitting members in the bicameral Diet at present. None of their members won a seat through direct election in 2010. Only one of them won a proportional representation seat.

That’s important because it means Ishihara Shintaro is incapable of electorally punishing the Democratic Party government of Noda Yoshihiko. Thus, it would seem that Mr. Shaw wants to discredit the Japanese intent to keep the Senkaku islets by demonizing Ishihara Shintaro and suggesting he has a stranglehold on Japanese policymaking. He doesn’t.

I spent some time on this because Mr. Shaw is trying to add a contemporary political dimension to the issue instead of limiting himself to the presentation of historical evidence. People do that sort of thing all the time. But if Mr. Shaw wants to do it, he needs to do some homework first.

He writes:

My research of over 40 official Meiji period documents unearthed from the Japanese National Archives, Diplomatic Records Office, and National Institute for Defense Studies Library clearly demonstrates that the Meiji government acknowledged Chinese ownership of the islands back in 1885.

We’d all like to see his evidence, but he doesn’t show us any. His article is accompanied by photographs of two Meiji-era documents stating that Japanese surveys of the islets were incomplete. Perhaps they were. But he would have better made his point by showing photographs that he thinks are clear proof of Japanese acknowledgement instead of those irrelevant letters. The discussion of historical research should not involve sleight-of-hand. That doesn’t stop him from saying:

Following the first on-site survey, in 1885, the Japanese foreign minister wrote, “Chinese newspapers have been reporting rumors of our intention of occupying islands belonging to China located next to Taiwan.…

I can’t determine from that translated sentence whether the foreign minister thinks the islands belong to China or the Chinese newspapers think the islands belong to China. Heck, the Chinese newspapers still think that. It might have been easy to clear up the syntax had he shown us a photo of that Japanese letter, but instead he shows us two other Japanese letters unrelated to his point.

Is there an inconvenient truth in the letter he doesn’t want us to see? Any more background information he’s leaving out?

Speaking of background, here’s something from a piece I wrote in 2010:

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… 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.

That’s relevant, because Mr. Shaw writes:

In November 1885, the Okinawa governor confirmed “since this matter is not unrelated to China, if problems do arise I would be in grave repentance for my responsibility”.

The only things the Okinawa governor confirmed were that the matter might have been related to China because he didn’t know who the islets belonged to, and that claiming territory was not his job. It does not demonstrate that he knew they were Chinese.

Mr. Shaw’s only mention of Koga Tatsuhiro is this:

In his biography Koga Tatsushiro, the first Japanese citizen to lease the islands from the Meiji government, attributed Japan’s possession of the islands to “the gallant military victory of our Imperial forces.”

People say all sorts of things in the spirit of patriotism, particularly after a war. But that “gallant military victory” also resulted in Japanese possession of other islands: Taiwan and the Pescadores. His manner of framing Koga’s involvement and the brevity of the direct quote raise questions that a serious scholar would not leave unanswered.

But if Koga, the operator of a small business, thought the islands were Chinese, Mr. Shaw would have told us. In fact, when Koga first wanted to establish a business there, he went to the Okinawa governor. That suggests he thought they were Japanese, if anything.

Incidentally, Koga and his son ran that business on the islands until 1940, and more than 200 of his employees lived there. It is still possible, however, to run across commentators who say the islands are “uninhabitable”.

Collectively, these official documents leave no doubt that the Meiji government did not base its occupation of the islands following “on-site surveys time and again,” but instead annexed them as booty of war.

Well, that settles that, at least for Mr. Shaw. Or does it?

Here are some more inconvenient truths.

* The first war between China and Japan started in April 1894 and ended when the Chinese sued for peace in February 1895.

* Among the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki signed in April 1895, Japan had China give complete independence to Korea, and received the territories of Taiwan, the Liaodong Peninsula (which Russia, France, and Germany made Japan give back a week later), and the Pescadores — other islands near Taiwan.

* The Japanese government annexed the Senkakus in January 1895, one month before the Chinese sued for peace and four months before the Treaty of Shimonoseki.

* The Japanese government knew that Taiwan, the Liaodong Peninsula, and the Pescadores were Chinese territory, and so insisted on them in the treaty negotiations. They even fought and defeated Qing dynasty troops at a garrison in the Pescadores and occupied the islands to ensure the Chinese would give them Taiwan in the negotiations then underway. They didn’t treat them as “booty of war”.

It would be logical to assume that if they thought the Senkakus were also Chinese territory, they would have included them in the treaty too. They were getting everything else they wanted. Therefore, it would seem that the Japanese thought they weren’t anybody’s territory, much less Chinese, and so annexed them.

Japan asserts that neither Beijing nor Taipei objected to U.S. administration after WWII. That’s true, but what Japan does not mention is that neither Beijing nor Taipei were invited as signatories of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951, from which the U.S. derived administrative rights.

What Mr. Shaw does not mention is that Chiang Kai-shek had the ear of the Allied forces throughout the war. He also participated in the conferences that resulted in the Cairo Declaration of 1943. One clause included the provision that Japan would give back all the territories it seized from China, including Taiwan and the Pescadores. Complaints about the San Francisco Peace Treaty are quibbling.

Indeed, Chiang Kai-shek also wanted Okinawa, but he didn’t get anywhere with that one. The current Chinese government is still trying.

Mr. Shaw also fails to mention that the reason neither the PRC or the ROC were invited to the peace treaty conference is that they were in the middle of a civil war at the time and lacked the legal status to be party to an international agreement.

When Japan annexed the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in 1895, it detached them from Taiwan and placed them under Okinawa Prefecture… Qing period (1644-1911) records substantiate Chinese ownership of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands prior to 1895. Envoy documents indicate that the islands reside inside the “border that separates Chinese and foreign lands.”

A post written by Prof. Shimojo Masao and presented here yesterday demonstrates that is incorrect. The Qing period records Prof. Shimojo presented — including maps that still exist — are clear about the border of China and Taiwan. None of them mentioned the Senkakus. Indeed, Qing dynasty records show that they considered the border to be Mt. Jilong in Taiwan: in 1684, when they incorporated the western part of Taiwan, and 1696, 1728, 1744, and 1793. It’s not possible to detach anything that isn’t attached to begin with.

And according to Taiwan gazetteers, “Diaoyu Island accommodates ten or more large ships” under the jurisdiction of Kavalan, Taiwan.

That’s most curious. If the Taiwan gazetteers were the ones who thought Diaoyu was part of Taiwan, why doesn’t he show us a photo of the publication? He does show us the photo of a gazetteer in the unrelated Fujian Province on the mainland in 1871, but none from Taiwan. Is that because he is aware of the inconvenient truths Prof. Shimojo has uncovered?

Half a century later when Japan returned Taiwan to China…

Chapter 2, Article 2 (b) of the San Francisco treaty:

Japan renounces all right, title and claim to Formosa and the Pescadores.

Japan did not “return Taiwan to China”. It only renounced its right, title, and claim. Every scholar in Taiwan knows this. Does Mr. Shaw have another agenda?

Half a century later when Japan returned Taiwan to China, both sides adopted the 1945 administrative arrangement of Taiwan, with the Chinese unaware that the uninhabited “Senkaku Islands” were in fact the former Diaoyu Islands. This explains the belated protest from Taipei and Beijing over U.S. administration of the islands after the war.

Rather than explain the belated protest, it offers an excuse for the belated protest, and not a very good one at that. The Chinese don’t even know their own geography? For example:

The first is an official letter from a Chinese consul in Nagasaki dated May 20, 1920 that listed the islands as Japanese territory.

The letter contained the Japanese name for the Senkakus rather than the Chinese name. What Mr. Shaw finds inconvenient to mention is that the document is an official expression of gratitude for the Japanese rescuing Chinese fishermen who were shipwrecked on the islets. They didn’t know what islets they were?

The “belated protest” didn’t come until 1971, after the potential for undersea resources were discovered in the area and the Americans and the Japanese signed the agreement to restore Okinawa to Japan.

Up until then, as I’ve noted before:

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.

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.

Hit this link for a look at the front page of the People’s Daily, as well as a Chinese map published in 1953, and republished in 1958, 1960, and 1967.

But Mr. Shaw would have us believe:

The Japanese government frequently cites two documents as evidence that China did not consider the islands to be Chinese. The first is an official letter from a Chinese consul in Nagasaki dated May 20, 1920 that listed the islands as Japanese territory. The second piece evidence is a Chinese map from 1958 that excludes the Senkaku Islands from Chinese territory. But the Japanese government’s partial unveiling leaves out important information from the map’s colophon: “certain national boundaries are based on maps compiled prior to the Second Sino-Japanese War(1937-1945).”

I count three more maps from China, two from Taiwan (one for a junior high school textbook), an article in the People’s Daily, and an article in a Taiwanese newspaper.

That’s more than “two”.

And that’s not to mention the classified 1969 Chinese government map reported in the United States to be in the possession of the Japanese government, and which has been seen by sources at that media outlet.

Want to bet that the US government also has seen it? Perhaps that’s the back story for this report which appeared yesterday:

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for East Asian and Pacific Affairs) Kurt Campbell said islands at the heart of a dispute between Japan and China fall under an American defense pact with Japan, while urging the sides to resolve the standoff via diplomacy…The U.S. doesn’t take a position on the sovereignty of the islands, known as Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese, Campbell said. His comments echoed those of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said in 2010 that the islands fall under “mutual treaty obligations” with the Japan government.

And that comment about the colophon is so disingenuous as to be odiferous. The author would have us believe it refers to the Senkakus, whose status wasn’t in dispute for decades before or after the second war with China. But Japan also occupied the Spratlys and the Paracels during the war and relinquished them after 1945 as well. Disputes about the Spratlys continue to the present with Vietnam. Unfortunately, the author doesn’t address anything about that part of the map. Would it show something that he finds inconvenient? In addition, the borders of China, Outer Mongolia, and Inner Mongolia frequently shifted before and after the war. Was the colophon referring to that? Instead of answer, Mr. Shaw gives us only more innuendo.

Concludes Mr. Shaw:

The right to know is the bedrock of every democracy. The Japanese public deserves to know the other side of the story.

On 21 August this year, Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou appeared on Japanese television and presented his case that the Senkaku islets were Taiwan’s territory. I’d be glad to introduce Mr. Shaw to the NHK producer who edited the program for broadcast if he wants to know how much the Japanese public knows. He sure doesn’t know now.

In his introduction to the piece, Nicholas Kristof writes:

I invite any Japanese scholars to make the contrary legal case.

Though a Ph.D isn’t essential to debate an activist academic, Mr. Kristof’s request is a reasonable one for maintaining the level of dialogue in his column and at the newspaper.

But a Japanese scholar has already accepted Mr. Kristof’s request to make a contrary legal case, and notification of that acceptance has been sent to him.

We’ll see what happens next.


People will have to distort the facts to make the claim that only the ultra-rightwing nationalists are the obstacle. The Japanese Communist Party, ultra-rightwing nationalist scalawags that they are, also addresses the issue 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.

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