Tensions between China and Japan have been escalated for the past few months on territorial dispute over the Diaoyu Islands. To better understand the situation, it will be helpful to look back into history and get more background knowledge of the history of the Diaoyu Islands.
Abundant historical documents show that Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets were first discovered, named and exploited by the Chinese people. Before the 15th century, some businessmen and fishermen in China's Southeast coast used Diaoyu Island as a mark for navigation and had long engaged in production activities on these islands and in their adjacent waters. Since the early years of the Ming Dynasty, Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets have been put under the jurisdiction of China's coastal defense. Chouhai Tubian (An Illustrated Compendium on Maritime Security) compiled by Hu Zongxian, the governor for war against pirates in the Ming Dynasty, marked the coastal islands that were under the jurisdiction of the Ming Dynasty for naval defense, which included the Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets.
This fact was recognized by Japan in explicit terms in the Japanese historical records till the late 19th century. Until modern times, none of Japan's official historical accounts, national records or academic papers had ever challenged China's territorial sovereignty over the Diaoyu Island, and the Chinese name for the island had been used in all these documents. The Japanese maps published prior to the mid-19th century had marked the Diaoyu Island and China's mainland with the same color, and even the Maps and Names of Provinces and Cities in Japan published in 1892 did not include the Diaoyu Island in the Japanese territory.
In 1941, the so-called "Taihoku (Taipei) Prefecture", which was then under the Japanese occupation, came into disputes with Okinawa Prefecture over the fishing grounds on the Diaoyu Islands. In handling this case, the Japanese court ruled that the Diaoyu Islands should be under the jurisdiction of "Taihoku Prefecture". Ryozo Fukuda, who served as the head of the "Taiwan Police Department" during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, confirmed that the Diaoyu Islands were, at the time, under the jurisdiction of the "Taiwan Police Department", and licences were issued by "Taihoku Prefecture" to Taiwanese fishermen to operate around the Diaoyu Islands. All these facts prove that even under Japan's colonial rule, these islands were administered as Taiwan's affiliated islands.
The Diaoyu Islands have, therefore, been part of China since ancient times. This is not a baseless or unfounded statement. Rather it has every piece of irrefutable evidence.
In fact, Japan seized on the first Sino-Japanese war (1894-1895) and illegally occupied Diaoyu Island. In 1884, Tatsushiro Koga, a Japanese national, explored the Diaoyu Islands and claimed that he found the islands to be terra nullius. From 1885 to 1893, the Okinawa Prefecture requested permission thrice from the Japanese government to place the Diaoyu Islands under its jurisdiction and put up boundary markers. The Japanese government rejected the requests fearing reprisals from the Qing government. In January 1895, as the Qing Dynasty's defeat in the first Sino-Japanese War was all but certain, the Japanese government illegally occupied the Diaoyu Islands and "incorporated" them into Okinawa Prefecture. In April the same year, by signing the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki, Japan forced the Qing Dynasty to cede "the island of Formosa (Taiwan), together with all islands appertaining or belonging to the said island of Formosa" to Japan. In 1900, the Japanese government renamed the Diaoyu Islands the "Senkaku Islands".
In December 1943, the heads of China, the US and the UK issued the Cairo Declaration in which it was stated that all the territories Japan had stolen from the Chinese should be restored to China. In 1945, it was reiterated in the Potsdam Proclamation that "the terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine". In August that year, Japan accepted the Potsdam Proclamation and surrendered unconditionally. In accordance with the Cairo Declaration and the POTSDAM Proclamation, China recovered the territories stolen by Japan such as Taiwan and the Penghu Islands. According to international law, the Diaoyu Islands, which are Taiwan's affiliated islands, have been simultaneously returned to China.
In 1951, the Treaty of Peace with Japan (commonly known as the Treaty of San Francisco, a treaty partial in nature) was signed between Japan, the United States and some other countries, placing the Ryukyu Islands (known as Okinawa today) under the administration of the United States. In 1953, the Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands under the control of the United States arbitrarily expanded its jurisdiction to include Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands, which are in fact Chinese territories. On 18 September 1951, Zhou Enlai, then Chinese Premier and Foreign Minister, made a solemn statement on behalf of the Chinese government that the Treaty of Peace with Japan signed in San Francisco was illegal and invalid and could under no circumstances be recognized by the central government of China as China was excluded from its preparation, formulation and signing.
In 1971, Japan and the United States signed the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, which arbitrarily included Diaoyu Island and other islands in the territories and territorial waters to be reverted to Japan. On the same day the agreement was signed, the spokesman of the U.S. State Department stated that the reversion of Okinawa would not have any implication for the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands). The Chinese government has, from the very beginning, firmly opposed and never recognized such backroom deals between Japan and the United States concerning Chinese territories. On 30 December 1971, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China issued a statement, saying that the agreement was a blatant violation of Chinese territorial sovereignty and would not be tolerated by the Chinese people. It is entirely illegal for the United States and Japan to include the Diaoyu Islands in the territories and territorial waters to be reversed to Japan in the Okinawa Reversion Agreement they signed. And this would in no way change the territorial sovereignty of the People's Republic of China over the Diaoyu Islands. Facts are facts, and history is not to be reversed. Japan's claim that there is no dispute between China and Japan over Diaoyu Islands is an outright denial of the outcomes of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War and constitutes a direct challenge to the post-war international order.
During the negotiations on the normalization of China-Japan relations in 1972 and on the signing of the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1978, the then leaders of the two countries, bearing in mind the larger interest of China-Japan relations, reached important common understanding on "leaving the issue of Diaoyu Islands to be resolved later". This opened the door to normalization of China-Japan relations and was followed by tremendous progress in China-Japan relations and stability and tranquility in East Asia in the following 40 years.
In April 2012, Shintaro Ishihara, a far right-wing Japanese politician and governor of Tokyo, initiated a scheme for the Tokyo Metropolitan government to "purchase" the Diaoyu Islands and launched a high –profile fund-raising campaign for collecting public donations for that purpose. In July, the Japanese government announced its plan to "nationalize" the islands. China has repeatedly lodged stern representations with Japan and reiterated that the Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets have always been China's inherent territory since ancient times. China has indisputable sovereignty over these islands. China strongly opposes the Japanese attempt to purchase China's sacred territory. Any unilateral move made by Japan with regard to the Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets is illegal and invalid and cannot change the fact that these islands belong to China.
In another shell, three points need to be emphasized. Firstly, the Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets have been an inherent part of Chinese territory since ancient times, and China has indisputable historical evidence and legal basis to support this claim. Secondly, it is an objective fact that there exist sovereign disputes between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Island. Thirdly, China always pursues a foreign policy of good-neighborliness and peaceful coexistence and maintains that a solution should be sought to this dispute through diplomatic negotiations on the basis of respecting facts.