Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Senkakus in the News again

Right after Ma ascended to power a Taiwanese fishing boat was allegedly rammed and sunk by a Japanese vessel in the Senkaku Islands, which the Chinese call the Diaoyutai (Fishing Platform) islands -- whose territorial ownership President Ma wrote his law school thesis on.

The Senkakus are a classic bit of Chinese territorial expansionism. As John Tkacik pointed out last year, neither the ROC nor the PRC governments considered the Senkakus, Japanese since 1895, to be part of China prior to around 1970. In the late 1960s scientists announced that there might be oil out there, and suddenly both Chinese governments discovered that the Senkakus had been Chinese for every picosecond of the last 5,000 years.

Once again the Senkakus are an irritant, as AFP reports in the Taipei Times, a Taiwanese fishing boat was nabbed in Japanese waters:
Taiwan sent coast guard vessels to disputed waters in the East China Sea where Japan arrested a Taiwanese skipper, accusing him of illegal fishing, officials on both sides said yesterday.

The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said it had dispatched five patrol boats to the area, 110 nautical miles (200km) east of Taiwan, after Japanese officials said they were holding the skipper for questioning.

The incident began late on Sunday, when the Formosa Chieftain No 2, a 49-tonne sports fishing boat, was accosted by Japanese maritime vessels over allegations of fishing illegally, the administration said.

The skipper declined the Japanese officials’ request to board his vessel, arguing he believed he was operating in Taiwanese waters, the CGA said.

The Japanese coast guard said it arrested the 44-year-old skipper on suspicion of violating Japan’s fishing law by being within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

His boat was carrying one crew member aside from Wang and nine fishing tourists, Japanese authorities said.

The CGA said that while it had sent five vessels to the area, a flotilla of five Japanese maritime vessels was also involved.
Taiwan Today gives a very detailed account.

The other day The Diplomat came out with a nifty article on Chinese military power, which questions western interpretations of it. Arguing that the US is losing its ability to project power in local waters, it observes:
If the US Navy can no longer provide for its flattops’ defense, the PLA Navy is already on the brink of sea denial in nearby waters, while local sea control is coming into sight for Beijing. Nor does the wider naval community share Ross’s confidence in the US Navy’s capacity to enforce sea control in Asia. His admission that the United States can’t ensure the survivability of its carriers, a mission verging on sacrosanct, is cold water in the faces of theater and fleet commanders entrusted with managing events in the western Pacific.
Unlike the US-Taiwan situation, where US defense of the island is shrouded in ambiguity, the US commitment to Japan is defined by treaty. Not only must the US come to Japan's aid in case it is attacked, but in 2006 the US and Japan conducted exercises simulating coming to rescue the Senkakus -- which the US publicly states are administrated by Japan, and thus fall under the wording of the US-Japan treaty -- in case they are invaded.

Japan moved to formally take full sovereignty over the islands in 2005, a move which infuriated Beijing in the way only a bully can be when cheated of his prey. Small though the islands may be, they loom large on the list of the world's flashpoints. The stabilizing presence of the US navy hinges on its ability to project power into the area. If that is called into question....

I argued a while back that the "reduction in tensions" between Taiwan and China hasn't really reduced tensions, so much as enabled China to displace them to elsewhere in Asia. In the 2003-2004 there were several challenges from Chinese groups, including visits to the Senkakus, and in 2005 Chen Shui-bian stupidly asserted Taiwanese sovereignty over the islands. Now another aspect of the "reduction in tensions" between Taiwan and China that is really displaced tensions is that the KMT Administration can increase the tensions over the Senkakus -- acting now as Beijing's proxy -- in this case, sending out 5 Coast Guard craft. Look for more yanking of Tokyo's chain over the islands, enabling Beijing to cheer from the sidelines as China continues its attempts to grab islands in other seas.

A friend of mine suggested that the US really should pay attention to how the Ma Administration handles the Senkaku issue -- because that is how the pro-China Ma really wants to treat the US.
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Kaminoge said...

According to an AP article that is carried in today's Daily Yomiuri, the Japanese coast guard said that if the Taiwanese captain had stopped when initially requested, he might not have been arrested.

An editorial on the incident in the China Post repeats the claim that the islands were awarded to the then-Taihoku Prefecture in 1944 by a Tokyo court. However, the Wikipedia Mirror entry on the Senkaku dispute (http://www.wiki-mirror.be/wiki/Senkaku_Islands), says the only source for this "decision" is an assertion made by a Keelung fisherman's association president back in 1971. Such is the basis for the Chinese claim to "inviolable sovereignty" over the islands!

Michael Turton said...

I'd be curious to know who those nine fisherman on board were.

Anonymous said...

Since Taiwanese fishermen are being arrested for illegal fishing every other week lately (in Japanese, US, Indian South Pacific/Australian and West African waters), it seems more than a conicidence, esp since they're fishing in waters less friendly to China.

Of course, most of the articles refer to these incursions as aggressive illegal fishing (of which the Thais, Japanese are Koreans are also guilty).

But I was was wondering that since these Taiwan boats are are sometimes crewed by "mainlanders", perhaps they are spying.

Anonymous said...

The islands are part of Taiwan, and even if Taiwan becomes formally independent, these islands are still Taiwanese. The islands were Taiwanese long before the US wrongly awarded the island to Japan after 2nd World War. Japan should focus on the Northern islands that Russia grabbed, instead of holding onto islands that they never owned historically.

Ken Wu said...

How is it that Senkaku Islands are a part of Taiwan?? The islands did belong to Taiwan before Japanese took over Taiwan; however, after the Japanese took over, they have placed Senkaku islands under the jurisdiction of Ryukyu and thus incorporated to a part of Japanese territorial sovereignty. In April of 1896, Japanese proceeded in including Senkaku Islands into the jurisdiction of Yaeyama district of Okinawa Prefecture, and later reassign it to be under the city of Ishigaki. After the end of world war 2, Japanese renounced the rights of Taiwan but transferred the rights of Ryukyu/Okinawa. Ryukyu was rightfully transferred to United States under Article 3 of the SF peace Treaty.
"Article 3

Japan will concur in any proposal of the United States to the United Nations to place under its trusteeship system, with the United States as the sole administering authority, Nansei Shoto south of 29deg. north latitude (including the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands), Nanpo Shoto south of Sofu Gan (including the Bonin Islands, Rosario Island and the Volcano Islands) and Parece Vela and Marcus Island. Pending the making of such a proposal and affirmative action thereon, the United States will have the right to exercise all and any powers of administration, legislation and jurisdiction over the territory and inhabitants of these islands, including their territorial waters."

As the sovereignty of Ryukyu was given back to Japan in 1972 per the referendum result based on principle of self determination, Ryukyu along with Senkakus were rightfully transferred back to Japanese sovereignty.

As far as I'm concerned, Senkaku sovereignty issues was already settled when the Americans adhere to the result of Ryukyu self determination. This has nothing to do with Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

EEZ! How much Fishing industry is there on Diaoyutai? How many fishermen are there on Diaoyutai? Both Taiwan and Japan claim 200 nautical mile EEZs, but look at those crazy EEZ maps, sail one hour from Su-Ao and you will be already deep in Japaneses EEZ because of those tiny dots that are 1000 times unpropotinal on the maps!

Anonymous said...

Ken Wu says that the islands belonged to Taiwan long before Taiwan proper got colonized by Japan. That's right! These islands have no inhabitants, so the argument of 'self-determination' is utterly crap. Historically, these islands have been part of Taiwan. Taiwanese fishermen have been fishing there long before the Japanese landed on Okinawa. Taiwan should claim these islands as part of Taiwan, instead of ROC because that's only confusing. The US made an error, but has yet to set it straight. Defending Taiwanese sovereignty should start by defending all Taiwanese territory, regardless which party (PRC, Japan, etc) is involved.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, those are Taiwan's historical fishing grounds; even worse is that boat looks like it was a sports fishing boat and not commercial fishing. What the hell is Japan doing?

Anonymous said...

As the sovereignty of Ryukyu was given back to Japan in 1972 per the referendum result based on principle of self determination

I am curious, where did you find the referendum of Ryukyu in 1972? Everywhere I read US simply chose to give it to Japan.

Anonymous said...

Since when can the USA decide who owns a disputed island?

Who gives them such rights?

islands are geographically connected with Tainan's Tatung Mountain.

Japan must negotiate with Taiwan on this issue and not act as a banzai bully on a small neighbor like what they once did.

If Japan insists on using the US
mistake to award the Island to them then Japanese people will never experience true peace.

Ken Wu said...

Let me break it down in a simpler way:

1. Senkakus supposedly belonged to Taiwan islands in the past during Ching Dynasty. The sovereignty belonged to China that time as Taiwan was a part of China.

2. After the Sino-Japanese War in 1894. Per Treaty of Shimonoseki, China rightfully ceded Taiwan to Japan, so now the sovereignty of Taiwan ALONG with Senkakus belong to Japan.

3. In April of 1896, Japanese proceeded in including Senkaku Islands into the jurisdiction of Yaeyama district of Okinawa Prefecture, and later reassign it to be under the city of Ishigaki. So, now Senkakus belong to Okinawa's jurisdiction instead of Taiwan.

4. After the end of world war 2, Japanese renounced the rights of Taiwan but transferred the sovereignty rights of Ryukyu/Okinawa to the United States. Senkakus at that point went under US control.

5. In 1972, US reverted the Ryukyu sovereignty back to Japan(thanks for the correction on the referendum part, I was careless there. I should say rising reunification sentiment). So, now the sovereignty of Ryukyu along with Senkakus got reverted to Japan.

US did not transfer Senkakus to Japan in error, they had every right to transfer the territorial sovereignty of Senkakus since its sovereignty was already incorporated with Ryukyu islands since 1896. The argument of Senkakus are a group of islands that s a part of an undersea extension of Taiwanese Datun mountains is only valid if there were never any clarity in its territorial sovereignty status.It is base on the legal precedent from the ruling of International Court in 1969 on the territorial dispute of North Sea Continental Shelf borders amonf West Germany, Denmark, and Netherlands. Sovereignty status of Senkakus was a lot more documented than the disputed north sea continental shelf borders.

Ken Wu said...

Anonymous, if your logic is valid, then Taiwan is most definitely a part of China because it is so historically. In fact, we might have a dispute over Taiwan among various world powers who used to own Taiwan.

Senkakus sovereignty issue is pretty settled. The only parties disputing against Japan are China and Taiwan. We all know the flawed logic China has, the whole "once a part of China, always a part of China" crap... are you saying you buy that??

Michael Turton said...

Ken -- (1) is debateable, but more importantly, Senkakus were not part of Taiwan Qing holdings, but were unclaimed until 1895 when Japan grabbed them in separate move that was not related to invasion. Hence they are not connected to Taiwan in any way, and historically never were.

Ken Wu said...

Michael, I am pretty sure it was uninhabited, but not as sure about unclaimed. Senkakus were concidered a part of Taiwanese islands according to two books written by authors from Ming Dynasty "report of Ryukyu" by Kai Chen and "One Look into Japan" by Zheng Shun Gong of Ming Dynasty.

Official history of Qing Dynasty considered Senkakus to be a part of Taiwanese islands within Chinese sovereignty base on how Shu-Jing Huang recorded in the Military Arms section of Chikan Notes Chapter in his book "Taiwanese Strait Report". "Taiwan Prefecture Reconstruction" by Xian Fan(1747) and "Fujian Annals - Taiwan prefecture of 1868" also affirm that claim. The historic documents stated that the islands were administered under Zhuluo county of Danshui subprefecture and Kemalan subprefecture.

Nevertheless, these historic facts are not enough to topple the legitimacy of Japanese ownership over Senkakus.

Michael Turton said...

Ken do you have the original Chinese of this? How were the Senkakus identified? I'm very skeptical of such claims.


Anonymous said...

Tiao Yu Tai Islands are not only traditional Taiwanese fishing grounds but also is a graveyard for some Ilan fishermen.

The site of the present Japanese Banzai light house is the exact location of the tombs .

So we know that the light house project was used to cover up a Banzai plan to destroy all the evidence of Taiwan's claim.

But the Banzai Nation will fail cause there will be tombs that they will never find and destroy.

Ken Wu said...

it is base on a research done by a member of an intellectual society we created in 2008.
you can read about the report on the second page of this link http://www.geocities.com/emerald.connection/speech/speech12132008.pdf

The only claim that refutes Chinese claim over the islands prior to Japanese control.

DanUS said...

Incorporating something in secret, without telling any one else, does not constitute a claim. In fact, Japan has not produced any its own evidence, although busy pointing holes at PRC's or Taiwan's arguments.

Historic treaties, almost all war-related, are open to different interpretations (e.g. the Treaty of Shimonoseki, Japan's Instrument of Surrender) or clearly exclude nations that did not sign (Article 25 of the Treaty of San Francisco). The U.S. trusteeship of the Ryuku Islands makes no difference in terms of sovereignty. This is the same argument that the United States uses itself to argue against PRC's claim on Taiwan, as well as the same argument that Japan uses to argue against South Korea's control of Dokdo Island/Takeshima.

Michael Turton said...

haha. How did you find this old post?