Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Mapping the truth of history

By Xu Gencai and Zhou Tao (China Daily) Updated: 2014-02-20 07:44

A study of charts dating back centuries proves without doubt that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China

In total disregard of international opposition, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe blatantly paid homage in late December to the Yasukuni Shrine where 14 Class-A war criminals of World War II are honored. The move, a gross trampling upon international justice and human conscience, has aroused strong condemnation and widespread opposition from the international community.

At a time when the Abe government faces severe intensified condemnation and was embarrassed into an isolated situation, some Japanese media once again mentioned certain old Chinese maps, in an attempt to take advantage of individual mapping mistakes to claim that the Diaoyu Islands were a part of Japan’s territory.

For a long time, there have been some forces in Japan who are not resigned to the fact of Japan’s defeat in World War II and have been harboring the illusion to repudiate the victory of the anti-fascist war and challenge the established post-war international order. Making an issue of old Chinese maps is part of a series of ridiculous moves by some Japanese media and politicians to this end. However, such a logic, which is based on their ignorance of basic historical facts, exactly demonstrates that these people have racked their brains in seeking the legal basis for Japan’s claim to the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands.

The Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands have been a part of China’s territory since ancient times. A large number of historical materials prove that these islands were already included in China’s administrative jurisdiction as early as in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. China is the first country in the world that discovered, named and exploited these islands and thus enjoys an indisputable historical and legal basis for territorial claim to them. Taking advantage of its victory in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, Japan forced the then Chinese Qing government into signing the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki, under which the entire island of Taiwan,together with all its affiliated islands, including the Diaoyu Islands were ceded to Japan. However, the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation, which were issued by the anti-Fascist Allied Forces prior to the end of World War II, stipulated that Japan must unconditionally return the territories it had stolen from China. These international legal documents constitutes the legal basis for the automatic return of the Diaoyu Islands, a part of China’s Taiwan, to China after Japan’s surrender in World War II. That also means the automatic invalidation of any so-called Japanese private territorial claims to the Diaoyu Islands during Japan’s colonial rule of them.

In 1951, Japan signed with the United States and some other countries the Treaty of Peace with Japan(Commonly known as the Treaty of San Francisco, a treaty partial in nature), transferring the Ryukyu Islands, known as Okinawa today, under US trusteeship. In 1971, the US and Japan signed the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, which arbitrarily included the Diaoyu Islands and other islands in the territory to be reversed to Japan.

Nevertheless, the Chinese government has expressed firm opposition to the backroom deals between Japan and the US from the very beginning and has never acknowledged them.

It is an indisputable fact that the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands are a part of China’s territory either from a historical or from a legal perspective. It would be a futile attempt for some Japanese media and politicians to take advantage of certain factual mistakes in one or two old Chinese maps as a basis for their denial of the history.

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