Regarding the Dec. 29 front-page article “China 1950 paper says Senkakus are Japan’s“: No it doesn’t. The document only refers to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands by their Japanese name. Who is the author of that document, and how does it represent the official position of the Chinese government? And did the Taiwanese government, another claimant of the islands, have any say in the paper? The claim that the islands come under Japanese ownership by virtue of a name reference is a pretty flimsy one.
The article dodges the key question: How did the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands come under Japanese jurisdiction? They were won as spoils of war after the first Sino-Japanese war and were ceded by a feeble Qing China under the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895.
The matter does not stop there. If you Google the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Declaration and the terms of the Japanese surrender after World War II, you will see that the Japanese government accepted the terms of these declarations, which required Japan to return to China all territories won by force.
So, the bigger question is not why the Chinese government did not pursue ownership claims to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands until 1971, but why Japan did not hand over the islands immediately after World War II as it was required to do.
In paying the Kurihara family ¥2 billion (for three of the islands), the Japanese government purchased illegally acquired property. In nearly all countries, there are laws that deny the legitimacy of such transactions and require such property to be returned to their rightful owners.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.