He and Jon M. Van Dyke are entitled to their own opinions about the Senkaku Islands [known as the Diaoyus in China] - but, alas, not their own facts ("Lines of latitude", November 10).The irony of using the thesis of President Ma, an ardent supporter of China's manufactured claim to the Senkakus, to knock this claim is especially delightful. I wonder what kind of signal the Cohen/Van Dyke piece sends to our ally Japan and our rival China, hosted as it is on the website of the major US foreign policy organization.
Even Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou would reject their assertion that the islands "have proved incapable of sustaining human habitation".
As Mr Ma pointed out in his magisterial 1981 Harvard Law School thesis "Legal Problems of Seabed Boundary Delimitation in the East China Sea" (p. 93), the main Senkaku Island, Uotsuri, possesses "a [fresh water] spring big enough to accommodate 200 people". He noted that in the early 1900s "an enterprising Japanese named Koga brought scores of seasonal workers, food and supplies each year" to the island where he built "houses, reservoirs, docks, warehouses and sewers".
Mr Ma is hardly a cheerleader for Japan's title to the islands.
However, he acknowledged that Koga's son continued a fish processing operation on the island until the early 1940s when the settlement's population had grown to 248, according to Okinawa Prefecture household registry records.
Uotsuri was evacuated during the second world war, and the United States military, which occupied the islands of Okinawa Prefecture from 1945 until 1972, used the island for naval gunnery practice, all the while paying an annual rent for the privilege to the Koga clan.
A publication on a related island reached my inbox today, this one on Okinawa, from AJISS, which looks at the changing US posture in Asia....
Due to a recent shift in American policy toward China, Okinawa is becoming of increasing strategic importance to the United States. This was manifested in the power game between Japan, the US and China in the East China Sea triggered by the September collision between a Chinese trawler and Japanese Coast Guard vessels near the Senkaku Islands belonging to Ishigaki city, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. The subsequent visits to Asia by US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are now considered part of the American strategic hedge against (or a containment strategy for) China. The change in American strategy can be traced in a series of strategic documents issued earlier this year....._______________________
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