Other names: Japanese: 尖閣諸島
Chinese: 釣魚台列嶼; Chinese: 钓鱼台群岛;
|Location of the islands (inside red rectangle and inset).
|Archipelago||Ryukyu Islands (controversial)|
|Total islands||5 + 3 rocks|
|Area||7 square kilometres (1,700 acres)|
|Highest point||Uotsuri Jima/Diaoyu Dao
383 metres (1,257 ft)
|People's Republic of China|
|Republic of China (Taiwan)|
|Township||Toucheng, Yilan County|
The Senkaku Islands (尖閣諸島 Senkaku Shotō ), also known as Diaoyutai Islands (simplified Chinese: 钓鱼台群岛; traditional Chinese: 釣魚台群島; pinyin: Diàoyútái Qúndǎo, literally "angling platform islands"), or the Pinnacle Islands, are a group of disputed, uninhabited islands currently controlled by Japan, but also claimed by both the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China as part of Taiwan Province, Toucheng Township in Yilan County. The islands are located roughly northeast of Taiwan, due west of Okinawa, and due north of the southwestern end of the Ryukyu Islands in the East China Sea.
The islands' status has emerged as a major issue in foreign relations between the People's Republic of China and Japan and between Japan and the Republic of China. The Japanese government regards these islands as a part of Okinawa prefecture, Former President of Republic of China Lee Teng-hui also claims the land of the Senkaku Islands belongs to Okinawa. While the complexity of the PRC-ROC relation has affected efforts to demonstrate Chinese sovereignty over the islands, both governments agree that the islands are part of Taiwan, which is administered by the ROC.
The first recorded naming of the islands dated back to the Ming Dynasty of China (14th-17th century) in books such as Voyage with the Tail Wind (順風相送), Journey to Lew Chew (使琉球錄). The Chinese Imperial Map of the Ming Dynasty also used Diaoyudao Islands.
In the 19th century, the Pinnacle Islands or Pinnacle Group was an English-language name used for the rocks adjacent to, but not including, the largest island Uotsuri Jima/Diaoyu Dao (then called Hoa-pin-su). Neither Kuba Jima/Huangwei Yu (then called Ti-a-usu) nor Taishō Jima/Chiwei Yu (then called "Raleigh Rock") were part of the Pinnacle Islands either.
In the late 19th century, Sentō Shosho (尖頭諸嶼) and Senkaku Shosho (尖閣諸嶼) were translations used for these "Pinnacle Islands" by various Japanese sources. Subsequently, the entire island group (including Uotsuri Jima/Diaoyu Dao and all the others) came to be called Senkaku Rettō, which later evolved into Senkaku Shotō.
The islands sit on the edge of the continental shelf of mainland Asia, and are separated from the Ryukyu Islands by the Okinawa Trough. Japan argues that these islets are part of the Ryukyu Islands. They are 170 kilometers (106 mi) north of Ishigaki Island, Japan; 186 km (116 mi) northeast of Keelung, Taiwan; and 410 km (255 mi) west of Okinawa Island.
The group is made up of five small non-volcanic islands:
Uotsuri Jima (魚釣島) or Diaoyudao (釣魚島) is the largest island of the Senkaku Islands. The Island located at has an area of 4.3 square kilometres (1.7 sq mi) and a highest elevation of 383 metres (1,257 ft).
Uotsuri jima/Diaoyudao has a number of endemic species such as the Senkaku mole (Nesoscaptor uchidai) and Okinawa-kuro-oo-ari ant, but these have become threatened by domestic goats that were introduced to the island in 1978 and whose population has increased to over 300 since that time.
Taishō Jima (大正島) or Chiwei Yu (赤尾嶼) is located at has an area of 0.609 square kilometers (0.2 sq mi) and a highest elevation of 75 meters (246 ft). Both the People's Republic of China and Republic of China claim it as their island.
Kita Kojima (北小島) or Bei Xiaodao is located at and has an area of 0.31 square kilometres (77 acres) and a highest elevation of 125 metres (410 ft).
Minami Kojima or Nan Xiaodao (南小島) is located atand has an area of 0.40 square kilometres (99 acres) and a highest elevation of 139 metres (456 ft).
This island is one of the few breeding places of the rare Short-tailed Albatross (Phoebastria albatrus).
There are also three larger rocks:
The islands were claimed by Japan in January 1895 and were registered in the land registry of Yaeyama-gun (administrative center: Ishigaki Island) in 1896. They are currently administered by Japan as a part of Ishigaki City, Okinawa prefecture. According to both the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC), China's sovereignty is dated as early as the 15th century. After the start of the dispute, Republic of China registered the islands as part of Taiwan Province (Daxi Village (大溪里), Toucheng Township, Yilan County. The postal code for Diaoyutai Islands in Chunghwa Post's system is 290.
The dispute appears to date from the 1968 announcement by two Japanese scientists that there may be large reservoirs of oil under the continental shelf below the islands. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea gives a 200 nautical mile "exclusive economic zone" and sovereignty over the seabed resources therein, meaning that whoever owned the Senkakus would gain economic control over important seabed resources.
From the end of World War II until 1972, the United States occupied Okinawa, and controlled the islands, whose ownership was undisputed until 1970, when both the PRC and the ROC began to claim that the disputed islands were given to Japan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895 and should therefore be returned to Taiwan (after the end of World War II in 1945, all "unequal treaties" forced on China were declared void, including the Treaty of Shimonoseki, concluded in 1895). In 1969, the US expressed its intention to hand over the occupied territories, including the disputed islands, to Japan. Both the PRC and ROC governments protested and reiterated their claim to sovereignty over the islands. The ROC made the official announcement on 11 June 1971, followed by the PRC on 30 December. However, the United States handed over the disputed islands to Japan as of May 15, 1972, even though they have not taken a definitive position on the sovereignty of the territory, considering the islands an "administrative territory" of Japan.
The Chinese claim to Senkaku Islands, in brief, proceeds as follows: the islands were known to the Chinese at least (and possibly as early as 770 BC ~ 221 BC, from a passage in the Shan Hai Jing, chapter "Haineibei jing") since the Ming Dynasty, and were controlled by the Qing Dynasty along with Taiwan; they were ceded to Japan under an Unequal Treaty in 1895 along with Taiwan; Between 1895 and 1945, Japan administered the islands as part of Taiwan; Unequal Treaties are null and void; however, more importantly, none of the Allies recognized any transfer of the territorial sovereignty of either Taiwan or any nearby islands to the ROC at any time during the 1940s or 1950s. In a 1959 court case in the United States, the US State Dept. was specifically quoted as maintaining that: " . . . that the sovereignty of Formosa has not been transferred to China . . . " and that "Formosa is not a part of China as a country, at least not as yet, and not until and unless appropriate treaties are hereafter entered into. Formosa may be said to be a territory or an area occupied and administered by the Government of the Republic of China, but is not officially recognized as being a part of the Republic of China."
After WWII, due to the civil war between competing PRC and ROC factions in China, both parties did not place their focus on the islands to avoid further disputes.
From 1945 to 1971, the Chinese remained undefined positions to claim back the sovereignty and administration on the islands. Not until 1971 when the US expressed its intention to hand over the disputed islands to Japan, both the PRC and ROC governments protested and reiterated their sovereignty over the islands. The Chinese claim came late and Japan used this chance to exercise administration on the islands.
China claims that the islands were within the Ming Dynasty's sea-defense area and are a part of Taiwan. According to the Chinese, China's sovereignty over the islands is dated to early 15th century, during the reign of the Ming Dynasty. The name Diaoyutai first appeared in 1403 in the Chinese book Voyage with the Tail Wind (順風相送), which recorded the names of the islands that voyagers had passed on a trip from Fujian to the Ryukyu Kingdom. By 1534, all the major islets of the island group had been identified and named in the book Record of the Imperial Envoy to Ryukyu(使琉球錄).
From 1624 until 1662, Taiwan and some of its surrounding islands, though not the Senkakus, were controlled by the Dutch as a base for commerce. In 1662, the Dutch were driven out by ex-Ming Dynasty general Zheng Chenggong (more popularly known as Koxinga). Zheng Chenggong and his successors established the Kingdom of Tungning and controlled the area until 1683. That year, Zheng's grandson Zheng Keshuang was defeated by Qing Dynasty forces led by Admiral Shi Lang. From then on, Qing Dynasty China gained effective control over Taiwan and its surrounding islands, including the islands in dispute today.
After losing the First Sino-Japanese War, Qing China signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki on 17 April 1895. This Unequal Treaty ceded Taiwan and its surrounding islands to Japan. The Chinese governments see the disputed islands as having been included in the islands ceded to Japan by the treaty, because of the historical evidence discussed above, even though the Treaty did not explicitly enumerate all the islands ceded under it.
On this basis, they argue for Chinese sovereignty over the islands for two reasons. First, that all the Unequal Treaties are null and void and thus the islands are still part of Taiwan Province of China. Secondly, that since the disputed islands were ceded along with Taiwan in 1895, therefore when Japan returned to China all territories it had obtained from China since the First Sino-Japanese War at the end of World War II, the disputed islands were returned along with Taiwan to China.
However, the United States, as principal victor over Japan, has consistently maintained that there was no "return" of island territories to China after the close of hostilities in WWII, either due to the Japanese surrender ceremonies, or according to the specifications of the post-war treaties. The Starr Memorandum of the US State Dept., issued in Oct. 1971, is often quoted as an authoritative reference on this subject.
China also asserted that in 1944, the Tokyo court ruled that the islands were part of Taihoku Prefecture (Taipei Prefecture), following a dispute between Okinawa Prefecture and Taihoku Prefecture. However, the assertion was solely based on a "claim" by the president of the fishermen's association of Keelung city in 4 August 1971. The primary source of this paragraph can be found in the journal "Modern China Studies", Issue 1, 1997 (in Simplified Chinese).
The Japanese claim to the islands briefly proceeds as follows: the islands were not inhabited up to 1895; several months before the cession of Taiwan by the Qing Dynasty to Japan, Japan had already claimed and incorporated the islands into Japanese territory; as a result, the islands remained Japanese territory and would not be affected by the retro-cession of Taiwan in 1945; though the islands were controlled by the United States as occupying power between 1945 and 1972, Japan has since 1972 exercised administration over the islands. According to Japanese government, PRC and ROC have come to claim the sovereignty since a submarine oil field was discovered near these islands.
Japan claims that after the Meiji Restoration, the Japanese government conducted surveys of the islands beginning in 1885 confirming no evidence that the uninhabited islands had been under Chinese control, though this conflicts with the earlier Chinese claim of the islands during the Qing Dynasty. At the time of this survey, Japan did not formally declare a claim to the islands. Instead, it waited until 14 January 1895, during the middle of the First Sino-Japanese War, to do this. Just three months before its military victory in the war and the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, Japan erected a marker on the islands to formally incorporate them as its territory. This decision was not made public until 1950, however. Four of the islands were subsequently borrowed and developed by the Koga family with the permission of the Japanese government.
Japanese scholars claim that neither China nor Ryukyu had recognized sovereignty over the uninhabited islands. Therefore, they claim that Chinese documents only prove that Kumejima, the first inhabited island reached by the Chinese, belonged to Okinawa. Kentaro Serita (芹田健太郎) of Kobe University points out that the official history book of the Ming Dynasty compiled during the Qing Dynasty, called the History of Ming (明史), describes Taiwan in the "Stories of Foreign Countries" (外国列传). Thus, China did not control the Senkaku Islands or Taiwan during the Ming Dynasty. The contrary viewpoint is that this evidence goes only to verify the fact that the early Qing Dynasty (which compiled the book) saw Taiwan and its surrounding islands as outside its territory. For 39 years between the end of the Ming Dynasty and the conquest of Taiwan by the Qing Dynasty, Taiwan was indeed ruled by a separate regime, the Kingdom of Tungning which swore loyalty to the Ming. Such evidence is thus not relevant to the Qing Dynasty's attitude towards the islands after its conquest of Taiwan.
In a letter purportedly sent to Japanese fishermen, who rescued a number of shipwrecked Chinese in 1920, by a Chinese Consul in Nagasaki, representing the Beiyang Government, a warlord regime, reference was made to "Senkaku Islands, Yaeyama District, Okinawa Prefecture, the Empire of Japan". However this letter is written after the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895), under which the government of Qing Dynasty ceded Senkaku Islands to Japan as a part of Taiwan. The Treaty of Shimonoseki was nullified by the end of WWII. See Treaty of Shimonoseki and Treaty of Taipei.
According to the geography textbook published in 1970 in Taiwan, where every textbook had to be officially approved by the government, clearly showed the islands as Japanese territories .
Japan claims that after World War II, the islands came under the United States occupation of Okinawa. During this period, the United States and the Ryūkyū Government administered the islands and the US Navy even used Kuba-jima and Taisho-jima as maneuver areas. In 1972, sovereignty over Okinawa, and arguably the surrounding islands, was handed back to Japan as part of the termination of United States Military Government jurisdiction over the Article 3 territories of the Treaty of San Francisco.
Japan has objected to Chinese development of natural gas resources in the East China Sea in an area where the two countries Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) claims overlap. Japan claims a division of the EEZ on the median line between the countries' coastlines. About 40,000 square kilometers of EEZ are in dispute. China and Japan both claim 200 nautical miles EEZ rights, but the East China Sea width is only 360 nautical miles. China claims an EEZ extending to the eastern end of the Chinese continental shelf which goes deep into the Japanese EEZ beyond the median line.
The specific development in dispute is China's drilling in the Chunxiao field, which is three miles west of the median line, but which Japan contends may be tapping natural gas reserves which extend past the median line. The Chunxiao gas field in Xihu Sag in the East China Sea is estimated to hold reserves of more than 1.6 tcf of natural gas and is expected to become a major producer in the next ten years. Commercial operation was expected to begin in mid-2005 at a production rate of 70 bcf per year, rising to 282 bcf by 2010. Sinopec Star has reserves of 7 tcf of gas, 1.9 tcf of which is held in the Chunxiao area.
|Territorial disputes in East, South, and Southeast Asia|
|Type||Territory||Currently Administered by||Claimants|
|Baekdu Mountain||2 2|
|Heixiazi/Bolshoy Ussuriysky (Eastern part)2||2|
|Kachin State||2 1|
|Korean Peninsula and its adjacent islands3|
|North Borneo (Sabah)2|
|Sixty-Four Villages East of the River2||2|
|South Tibet (now Arunachal Pradesh of India)||2|
|Tannu Uriankhai (now Tuva Republic of Russia)2||2|
|Tibet (TAR) and other Tibetan autonomous areas of PRC/Greater Tibet (excluding South Tibet)||2 1|
|Islands and Waters:||Diaoyutai/Senkaku Islands|
|Socotra Rock||2 2|
|Southern Kuril Islands|
|Taiwan and Penghu2|
|Notes:||1Government in exile/exiled group.
3Divided among multiple claimants.