Tokyo in 1971 asked Taipei to refrain from pressing its claim to the Senkaku Islands in return for backing Taiwan’s efforts to keep its seat at the United Nations, according to Japanese diplomatic records declassified on Thursday.
Taiwan responded that it would attempt to “cool down” issues related to the islands, the documents show. The islets in the East China Sea are administered by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan, which call them Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively.
Former Foreign Minister Kiichi Aichi made the request at a meeting in Tokyo with Taiwan’s ambassador to the United States when Taipei was on the verge of losing its U.N. seat.
The issue of China’s representation had drawn attention at the world body, with the Taiwan-based Republic of China and the communist-led People’s Republic of China fighting for the seat to become the sole legitimate government of all of China.
At the meeting, Aichi said Japan “would like to cooperate closely” with Taiwan on its drive to keep its seat.
Aichi was quoted as saying he “would appreciate it if (Taiwan) were quiet about the Senkaku Islands, in the sense that being so would not provoke people in Japan,” the records show.
The Taiwanese ambassador to Washington thanked Japan for its offer and said Taipei “would like to make efforts to ‘cool down’ this (Senkaku) issue.”
Japan’s agreement, along with the U.S., to help Taiwan keep its seat at the U.N. was aimed at countering the influence of the communist regime in Beijing. But an increase in the number of countries establishing diplomatic relations with China led the U.N. General Assembly in October 1971 to adopt a resolution granting a seat to Beijing, resulting in Taipei’s withdrawal from the world body.
China and Taiwan only began making assertions about the Senkaku Islands in the 1970s, after a survey conducted by a U.N. agency in the autumn of 1968 signaled the possibility that petroleum resources might exist in the East China Sea.