BEIJING – Maps created by Chinese government-affiliated publishers after the 1949 establishment of the People’s Republic of China and until July 1971 had no reference to Diaoyu, the Chinese name of the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, Jiji Press learned Sunday.
China started to claim the islands as its own in 1971. But the name Diaoyu was not found in domestic maps produced by China’s state surveying and mapping bureau before then.
China has also moved its border with Japan around the islands on the map since it began claiming sovereignty over the islet chain.
Jiji Press checked some 50 world and domestic maps published in China between 1946 and 2003. It is believed to be the first time that maps published in China have been systematically checked over the Senkaku Islands, experts say.
Kentaro Serita, president of Kyoto Notre Dame University and an expert on the Senkaku Islands, said the fact that maps created by Chinese government-affiliated publishers had no reference to Diaoyu shows China had not regard them as its territory.
The discovery of these maps could affect discussions between Japan and China at a time when their relations have been strained by Japan’s nationalization of three of the five uninhabited islets in September 2012, and China’s establishment last month of an air defense identification zone over the East China Sea that includes airspace around the island chain.
In recent years, the Chinese government has been strictly controlling the management of maps lacking a reference to Diaoyu. For example, a national library in Beijing now prohibits visitors from viewing old maps.
Jiji Press obtained the 50 maps, mainly those published by government-affiliated SinoMaps, the most authoritative map publisher in China, at antiquarian booksellers in Beijing. Among them are those published in 1951, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1969 and 1970, or before China began to assert ownership of the Senkaku Islands.
A detailed examination revealed that all maps published in July 1971 and later, excluding some wall maps of the world, had the name of Diaoyu for the islands and Chiwei Yu, the name for one of the islands, called Taisho in Japan.
In maps published in June 1971 and before, however, Diaoyu was not found at all in pages for mainland China or Taiwan. This contradicts China’s current assertion that the Senkaku Islands are part of Taiwan, which China claims is part of the country.
In addition, the Japan-China border drawn between Yonagunijima, the westernmost island of Japan, and Taiwan on maps published in July 1971 and later was moved southward compared with maps created earlier, apparently to clearly show that the Senkaku Islands are part of China.
Meanwhile, a map published in November 1958 contained Senkaku and Uotsuri, the Japanese name for the largest of the five islands, suggesting that China had recognized the islands as Japanese territory.
Among old maps publicized by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, those created in 1930, 1962 and 1973 had such names as Senkaku and Uotsuri.
Chinese ships encroach
Naha Okinawa Pref.
Three Chinese Coast Guard ships temporarily entered Japanese territorial waters around the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea on Sunday, the Japan Coast Guard said.
The intrusion was the first since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s contentious visit Thursday to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, according to the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture.
The last time Chinese vessels entered what Japan calls its territorial waters was Dec. 22.
Meanwhile, the China’s State Ocean Administration in Beijing said Sunday the Haijing 2112, 2151 and 2337 operated in what it calls its waters.