Lending clarity to the China-Japan dispute
Their significance accrues from, as an observer has noted, the huge area of continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)—“an estimated 71,000 square kilometres … that would convey rights to 100 billion barrels of oil and rich fishing grounds.” The sea-lanes and strategic geopolitical location are added benefits, the latter which Daily Yomiuri makes no bones about: “If the military’s new osprey aircraft is stationed in Okinawa prefecture, the mobility of US Marines will be improved, raising hopes of keeping China in check.”
But it’s not quite checkmate, yet. China’s claims are seeded in ancient history. According to associate professor at San Francisco State University, Jean-Marc F Blanchard, the Chinese trace their claim to 1372 when the islands were discovered, and consequently named in 1403. Travel records of Ming and Qing courts, Chinese maps and scholarly works of both Japanese and Chinese scholars attest to this. Thus the Chinese claim thievery, saying that Japan “stole” these islands. According to China, the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895), which ended the Sino-Japanese war of 1894, ceded Taiwan, Pescadores and Senkaku/Diaoyu to Japan. Now China wants it back.
However, the Japanese dismiss this version. They contend that Senkaku/Diaoyu was discovered by Japan in 1884. Then Senkaku/Diaoyu showed no traces of Chinese control, nor did China protest any activity by the Japanese on the islands. It was made a part of Okinawa in 1895 and markers erected. Okinawa was
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