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Diaoyu Islands Dispute
Cover Stories Series 2012> Diaoyu Islands Dispute
UPDATED: September 14, 2012 NO. 38 SEPTEMBER 20, 2012
An Outrageous Decision

The decision of the current Japanese Government to "nationalize" the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, a Chinese territory since the 14th century, not only aroused indignation among Chinese people all over the world, but also brought the Sino-Japanese ties to the chilliest point ever. This happened at a time when the two nations would have otherwise celebrated the 40th anniversary of their normalized diplomatic relations and set to further renew their mutually beneficial and cooperative ties in the face of the fast-changing world.

Enough evidence has been shown with regard to China's sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands, which were ceded to Japan along with Taiwan after China's defeat in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95. As World War II drew to an end, leaders of the Allied nations of China, Britain and the United Stated adopted the Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Declaration, respectively in 1943 and 1945, both defining Japan's legal state boundaries and demanding the return of all territories it had illegally seized. Japan accepted these demands unconditionally upon its surrender in August 1945.

In December 1971, the United States unilaterally handed over the "jurisdictive rights" of the Diaoyu Islands and some other territories, then under the U.S. trusteeship, to Japan, leading to the de factor control of the islands by the Japanese side ever since.

Over the years, China has on so many occasions reiterated its sovereignty, and hoped Japan would put aside the territorial disputes and direct attention to developing normal state-to-state ties, just like what the late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and his Japanese counterpart Kakuei Tanaka had agreed to back in September 1972, during the latter's historical visit to China that culminated in the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two East Asian neighbors. Regrettably, the Japanese authorities have taken no heed of China's proposal.

The Japanese Government's latest decision is an outrageous one, for it disregards the international norms on territorial dispute settlement and attempts to revoke the verdict of the global community delivered at the end of World War II to confine Japanese militarism and establish a new order in the Asia-Pacific region. Needless to say, it would be wishful thinking of the Japanese authorities to think that by "nationalizing" Chinese territory, Japan could legitimize its territorial claims and perpetuate control over the islands.

This decision may also serve as proof to show once again the notoriously obstinate and paranoiac nature of some Japanese politicians. For decades after World War II, Japan has fallen short of delivering an earnest apology for its wartime atrocities. Worse still, the Japanese authorities even tried to conceal the criminal behaviors of the Japanese army, distorted history in school textbooks, overruled appeals for compensation by "comfort women," and alleged the Nanking Massacre in which more than 300,000 Chinese civilians were killed was a fabrication.

These, together with the most recent trespass of the Diaoyu Islands, have demonstrated that Japan has no regrets for its past aggression, only a jingoistic urge to save face against World War II defeat.

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