The Foreign Ministry has published on its website a map released by a Chinese government organ in 1969 calling the disputed Senkaku Islands by their Japanese name.
The ministry’s website already had a Taiwanese map of 1970 using the same name.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said that putting the 1969 map on the website was aimed at showing both Japan and its neighbors have historically considered the island group in the East China Sea as Japanese territory.
Japan administers the islands, which it considers to be part of Okinawa Prefecture, but China and Taiwan both claim them, calling them Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively.
The map, created by the Chinese State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping in 1969, labels the uninhabited islets with Chinese characters that read “Senkaku Islands.” Uotsuri, the largest and westernmost island in the group, is also identified by its Japanese name.
The map “can be considered to have been created on the premise that the Senkaku Islands are part of Japanese territory,” Kishida told reporters Tuesday.
He added that the ministry is publishing the map on the Internet to show that China’s claim “has no foundation at all.”
The ministry’s website says China and Taiwan began claiming sovereignty over the islands for the first time in 1971 after a U.N. report in 1969 identified potential oil and gas reserves in the area.
The website also shows two maps taken from Taiwanese geography textbooks used in 1970 and 1971, with the former referring to the isles as the “Senkaku Islands” and the latter as the “Tiaoyutai Islands.”
Later in the day, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei challenged the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
It is an undeniable fact that the islands belong to China, Hong said at a press conference, adding that a few maps will not overturn this fact.
Hong claimed that China’s sovereignty over the islands is based on historical evidence and principles of law.
He also said that it is possible to find hundreds or thousands of maps indicating the islands belong to China.
Information from Jiji added.