LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Setting the Record Straight on Senkaku Islands

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To the Editor:

I am writing to provide an accurate explanation regarding a historical fact in the Los Angeles Times article “Chinese cancel ceremony in anger at Japanese claims to islands,” dated Sept. 24, 2012, by Ms. Barbara Demick. The article states that the Senkaku Islands have “been contested for more than a century” between Japan and China; however, this statement is historically inaccurate.

Consul General Jun Niimi

The Senkaku Islands were formally incorporated into the territory of Japan in January 1895 by the government of Japan, after carefully surveying and confirming that the islands had been uninhabited and showed no trace of having been under the control of other sovereignties including China (then the Qing Dynasty).

Except for the period after World War II, when they were placed under the administration of the United States of America, the islands have been under the valid control of the government of Japan and therefore have remained an integral part of the territory of Japan.

It was not until 1970, just after the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East indicated the possibility of the existence of petroleum resources on the sea around the islands, that the government of China began to claim their territorial sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands.

Before this indication, even the “World Atlas” published in China in 1960 as well as an article published on Jan, 8, 1953 in The People’s Daily, the official publication of the Communist Party of China, clearly treated the Senkaku Islands as part of Japan. I need not explain the significance of this reference in article in the official publication by the Communist Party of China, which has been ruling the People’s Republic of China.

I would like to stress to the American people that the Senkaku Islands were placed under the administration of the U.S. government after the Second World War, and the U.S. government reverted its administrative rights back to Japan in 1972 as stipulated in the agreement between Japan and the United States. Based on this agreement and in accordance with the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, two of the islands (Taisho Island and Kuba Island) have been the firing and bombing ranges for the U.S. Forces.

In closing, I hope the facts I have stated will present your readers with the full historical scope about the issues surrounding the Senkaku Islands. For further details of Japan’s position on the Senkaku Islands, please refer to the following website: http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/senkaku/senkaku.html

Jun Niimi, Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles

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