Senkaku / Diaoyutai Islands
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said the new Japanese government will carefully consider stationing officials on the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in a interview on 28 December 2012, according to JiJi Press, a Japanese news agency. Kishida's Liberal Democratic Party, which was recently returned to power after being sidelined for three years, promised to consider placing officials on the disputed islands during the campaigning leading up to the December 16 elections.
On 25 December 2012, Japanese media reported that Tokyo had scrambled fighter jets over the East China Sea after reports of a Chinese marine surveillance plane in disputed airspace near the contested islands.
In an attempt to bolster its claims to disputed islands in the East China Sea, China presented the United Nations what it says is geological evidence proving the islands belong to Beijing. Lianzeng Chen, the deputy head of China’s State Oceanic Administration, submitted the claim 13 December 2012. He said Beijing has the right to claim the undersea continental shelf beyond the normal 200 nautical miles because it is a “natural prolongation” of China's land territory into the East China Sea. Chen said the geological characteristics of the continental shelf in the East China Sea differ greatly from those of the Okinawa Trough to the east, and accordingly, the trough should be seen as the end of China’s continental shelf.
On 23 August 2012 Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said “there is no doubt ” that the islands, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, “are an integral part of Japan” and he denied that sovereignty over the island chain is being disputed. The Meiji government incorporated the Senkaku Islands into Okinawa Prefecture in 1895 after it had confirmed that the islands were not under the control of the Qing Dynasty, Noda said, adding that China had not asserted sovereignty over the Senkaku until the 1970s when it learned that the islands are possibly situated nearby large reserves of oil.
Japan controlled the Senkaku Islands until after World War II, when they came under temporary control of the United States. China does not recognize the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco, under which Japan transferred control of the islands to Washington. ??In 1972, the United States transferred the islands back to Japan. China's Foreign Ministry announced on Dec. 30 of 1971 that such a move was "totally illegal" and reiterated that Diaoyu Islands and surrounding islets were "an integral part of the Chinese territory".
On the same day, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei expressed strong displeasure at the Japanese leader's remark on Diaoyu Islands, saying that it "sabotages China's territorial sovereignty." Hong stressed that the Diaoyu Islands and surrounding islets "have been the inherent territory of China since ancient times" because they "were first found, named and used by the Chinese." The earliest historical record of Diaoyu Islands can be dated back to China's Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in a book titled "Departure Along the Wind" (published in 1403), in which the names of "Diaoyu Islet" and "Chiwei Islet" were used. The names refer to the nowadays Diaoyu Islands and Chiwei Islet, Hong said. He went on to say that Hu Zongxian, the Zhejiang governor of Ming Dynasty, marked Diaoyu Islands and surrounding islets in China's maritime defense. "It demonstrated that these islands were at least within China's maritime defense sphere since the Ming Dynasty," Hong said.
In March 2009 Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso twice referred the Senkaku Islands [Diaoyu Islands] as Japan's territory, saying they were protected under the Japan-U.S. security treaty. He made this statement during his trip to the United States as well as in the Parliament, the first time a Japanese prime minister had made such a remark.
On 27 February 2009, Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said the US also recognized Japanese jurisdiction over the Diaoyu Islands, where the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States would apply. A U.S. State Department official said on the same day that the Diaoyu Islands were always under the administrative jurisdiction of Japan and the Treaty would apply to them.
On 02 March 2009, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman said "China has indisputable sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and adjacent islets which have been China's inalienable territory since ancient times. The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States, as a bilateral arrangement, should not undermine the interest of any third party including China. Any attempt to cover the Diaoyu Islands under the Treaty is absolutely unacceptable to the Chinese people. We have lodged a solemn representation to Japan once again and urged the U.S. to make clarification over the relevant reports. We hope Japan and the U.S. can realize the great sensitivity of the issue with discretion in words and deeds and refrain from doing anything that may undermine regional stability or the overall interests of China-Japan relations and China-U.S. relations.
On 02 February 2009 media reported that Japan's Maritime Safety Agency stationed for the first time PLH (patrol vessels large with helicopter) in the waters of Diaoyu Islands, saying that the action was aimed to defend against "invasion" from Chinese marine survey ships. China's Foreign Ministry spokesman said "The Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets have been China's inalienable territory since ancient times. China has undisputable sovereign rights over them. Any action by the Japanese side to strengthen actual control over the islands constitutes an infringement upon China's territorial sovereignty, which is illegal and invalid, and should be stopped immediately."
Sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands is disputed. The Senkaku Islands (the Chinese call them the Diaoyutai, which means "fishing platform" in Chinese), claimed by both China and Japan, are oil-rich and near key international shipping routes.
The People's Republic of China (China) is the world's most populous country and the second largest energy consumer (after the United States). Rising oil demand and imports have made China a significant factor in world oil markets. China also surpassed Japan as the world's second-largest petroleum consumer in 2003. Japan is the world's fourth largest energy consumer and was the second largest energy importer (after the United States).
The Tiao Yu Tai islands (called "Senkaku" in Japanese) are a group of eight uninhabited islands on the continental shelf, separated from the Liu Chiu islands by a deep underwater trench. These eight uninhabited islands and barren rocks have a land area of only 6.3 square kilometres. The islands are approximately 120 nm northeast of Taiwan, 200 nm east of the Chinese mainland, and 200 nm southeast of Okinawa. Most of the islets are clustered around the largest island, Uotsuri/Diaoyu, which covers roughly 8 hectares and lies 170 km northeast of Taiwan and 410 km west of Okinawa. Two outlying islets, Kobi-sho/Huangwei Yu and Akao-sho/Chiwei Yu, are located 31 km and 108 km from Uotsuri/Diaoyu Island, respectively. Diaoyu is at 25°45'N 123°29'E. The elevations of the highest points of islands: Diaoyutai 383 m, Beixiaodao 135 m, Nanxiaodao 149 m, Chongbeiyan 28 m.
Japan claims the islands as official Japanese territory in 1895. From 1885 on, surveys of the Senkaku Islands had been thoroughly made by the Government of Japan through the agencies of Okinawa Prefecture and by way of other methods. Through these surveys, it was confirmed that the Senkaku Islands had been uninhabited and showed no trace of having been under the control of China. Based on this confirmation, the Government of Japan made a Cabinet Decision on 14 January 1895 to erect a marker on the Islands to formally incorporate the Senkaku Islands into the territory of Japan. Since then, the Senkaku Islands have continuously remained as an integral part of the Nansei Shoto Islands which are the territory of Japan. These islands were neither part of Taiwan nor part of the Pescadores Islands which were ceded to Japan from the Qing Dynasty of China in accordance with Article II of the Treaty of Shimonoseki which came into effect in May of 1895. Accordingly, the Senkaku Islands are not included in the territory which Japan renounced under Article II of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. They came under US control after World War II. The United States kept that group of small islets for occasional bombing practice targets, largely for its Liu Chiu based Air Force. Japan claimed that the Diaoyutai Islands are part of Liu Chiu. The Senkaku Islands have been placed under the administration of the United States of America as part of the Nansei Shoto Islands, in accordance with Article III of the said treaty, and are included in the area, the administrative rights over which were reverted to Japan in accordance with the Agreement Between Japan and the United States of America Concerning the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands signed on 17 June 1971. The facts outlined herein clearly indicate the status of the Senkaku Islands being part of the territory of Japan. According to Japan, the fact that China expressed no objection to the status of the Islands being under the administration of the United States under Article III of the San Francisco Peace Treaty clearly indicates that China did not consider the Senkaku Islands as part of Taiwan. It was not until the latter half of 1970, when the question of the development of petroleum resources on the continental shelf of the East China Sea came to the surface, that the Government of China and Taiwan authorities began to raise questions regarding the Senkaku Islands.
According to China, Chinese historical records detailing the discovery and geographical feature of these islands date back to the year 1403. For several centuries they have been administered as part of Taiwan and have always been used exclusively by Chinese fishermen as an operational base. In 1874, Japan took Liu Chiu Islands from China by force. Diaoyutai, however, remained under the administration Taiwan, a part of China. Taiwan (including Diaoyutai) was ceded to Japan in 1895 after the first Sino-Japanese War. Originally, during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, the Diaoyutai Archipelago came under the jurisdiction of Taipei Prefecture. After the close of the Second World War, when U.S. troops were stationed on the Ryukyu and Diaoyutai Archipelagoes, the KMT government which had received Taiwan did not immediately demand that that the US give them sovereignty. Diaoyutai was returned to China at the end of World War II in 1945 based upon the 1943 agreement of the Big Three in Cairo. Diaoyutai was part of Taiwan hence was included in that package.
China argues that Okinotorishima island, the southernmost island in the Japanese archipelago, is merely a rock, not an island, in an attempt to nullify Japan's claim of an exclusive economic zone around the small island, which is under Tokyo jurisdiction. The Chinese said they had "differences of opinion," citing Okinotorishima and the Senkaku Islands. While Beijing acknowledges that Okinotorishima belongs to Japan, it stressed that it did not fall under the classification of an island as defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, but is instead a rock, which cannot be used to designate an exclusive economic zone, as the Japanese government has done.
In 1969, a report by the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) indicated the possibility of large reserves of oil in the vicinity of the Diaoyutai Archipelago. This report set off a political dispute between Taiwan, China and Japan which has been going on now for over thirty years.
In 1969, when the Okinawa Reversion Treaty was signed between the US and Japan, it included the Diaoyutai Islands. Since then Japan insists repeatedly that the islet group is part of Japan's territory. The Senkaku Islands have been under the administrative control of the Government of Japan since, having been returned as part of the reversion of Okinawa. On April 9, 1971, the U.S. State Department issued a statement that President Nixon and Japanese Prime Minister Sato Eisaku had reached an agreement, by which the US would return Okinawa and the "South-western islands" which included the Senkaku, to Japan, in 1972.
Japan has objected to Chinese development of natural gas resources in the East China Sea in an area where the two countries Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) claims overlap. Japan claims a division of the EEZ on the median line between the countries' coastlines. About 40,000 square kilometers of EEZ are in dispute. China and Japan both claim 200 nautical miles EEZ rights, but the East China Sea width is only 360 nautical miles. China claims an EEZ extending to the eastern end of the Chinese continental shelf which goes deep into the Japanese EEZ beyond the median line.
According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea the stipulation, should act according to the fair principle development negotiations, seeks means which both sides both can accept. When there is disagreement on the demarcation of EEZs between any countries, the law stipulates that the parties concerned should avoid anything that could undermine an eventual agreement. China's gas field drilling near the median line between the two countries is regarded by Japan as an obvious infringement of the spirit of this law. Tokyo's proposal, which has not been accepted by Beijing, has been to divide the sea equally between the two countries, which would put China's Chunxiao claim only three miles from Japanese territory. China's offers to jointly develop the oil field have been rebuffed.
The specific development in dispute is China's drilling in the Chunxiao field, which is three miles west of the median line, but which Japan contends may be tapping natural gas reserves which extend past the median line. The Chunxiao gas field in Xihu Sag in the East China Sea is estimated to hold reserves of more than 1.6 tcf of natural gas and is expected to become a major producer in the next ten years. Commercial operation was expected to begin in mid-2005 at a production rate of 70 bcf per year, rising to 282 bcf by 2010. Sinopec Star has reserves of 7 tcf of gas, 1.9 tcf of which is held in the Chunxiao area. China has proven reserves of natural gas of about 53.3 trillion cubic feet (tcf). Most of China's gas fields are in the the western and north-central parts of the country, though offshore basins are becoming increasingly important.
Senkaku / Diaoyutai Islands - Chronology
China has in recent years tried hard to establish a sphere of influence in the South and East China Seas. In December 1995, Chinese ships were spotted encroaching on the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
Japan declared an EEZ (a zone of 200 miles or about 370 km around its territories) around the Senkaku Islands in June 1996 (taking effect on 20 July 1996). Incursions by Chinese oil exploration-related vessels, warships and ocean research vessels into the claimed EEZ around the Senkaku increased since that time.
In July 1996, a Japanese group's establishment of a lighthouse on one of the Senkaku Islands sparked a wave of anti-Japanese protests, especially in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Invasion of Japanese territorial waters and illegal landings on the islands ensued, and China lodged a vigorous protest. While maintaining its basic position that the Senkaku Islands are an integral part of Japan's territory, and that Japan in fact has effective control over these, Japan reacted to prevent the issue from adversely impacting the development of Japan-China relations. In the months following July, various matters related to the interpretation of history, such as visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, elicited strong responses from China.
David Chan, a colorful figure on the Hong Kong political scene, drowned 26 September 1996 after he and several other protesters jumped into the East China Sea when Japanese patrol boats blocked their protest ship. He became a martyr to a cause that stirred emotions among Chinese around the world. The ship Kien Hwa entered the territorial waters around Uotsuri Island in the early hours of 26 September, and then withdrew outside the territorial waters. Then, at 09:00 the same day, the vessel reentered the territorial waters. All the while, a patrol vessel of the Maritime Safety Agency repeatedly radioed warnings to the vessel to withdraw from Japanese territorial waters. At approximately 10:27 on the morning of 26 September, the same day, four individuals from the Kien Hwa jumped into the sea at a location approximately 3.3 kilometers north of the western tip of Uotsuri Island. By 10:40, all four individuals were taken back on board by the Kien Hwa. At that time, two of the individuals were in serious condition. Later on, at approximately 10:58, in response to a request for emergency assistance from the captain of the Kien Hwa to the Maritime Safety Agency, two personnel of the Maritime Safety Agency immediately boarded the Kien Hwa and administered a heart massage to one of the two individuals in serious condition, Mr. Chan. At 13:45, a doctor was flown in from Ishigaki Island to the Kien Hwa by a Maritime Safety Agency helicopter. In spite of all out efforts by the doctor, at 14:03 the individual was declared dead. According to the doctor, drowning appeared to be the cause of death. At approximately 11:13, the other individual, Mr. Fong, was transported to Ishigaki Island by a Maritime Safety Agency helicopter.
At the height of a period of increased political tension in mid-1996 between China and Japan regarding sovereignty over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, the Government forced longtime anti-Japanese activist Tong Zeng to depart Beijing for a 2-week trip to Gansu province. The Government imposed heavy ideological controls on political discourse at colleges, universities, and research institutes. In September 1996, for example, authorities closed computer bulletin boards at universities in Beijing when students began using the Internet to urge government action in defense of Chinese sovereignty claims over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands.
During 1997 protest vessels from Hong Kong and Taiwan have continued to take actions such as venturing close to the islands. Chinese protestors landed on Diaoyu Island after clashing with Japanese coast guards in September 1998. The "Bao Diao Hao" was sunk after a collision in September 1998.
In early 2000 the new Electronic Reconnaissance Ship Dongdiao [hull number 232] turned up near the Japanese Coast. On 02 March 2000 a fleet of Chinese naval vessels was activating its training exercises in a central area of the East China Sea within Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the Senkaku islets (or Diaoyu in Chinese) that belong to Ishigaki City in Japan's southernmost island prefecture of Okinawa.
In 2003 China together with Taiwan asserted their claims to the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Tai) with increased media coverage and protest actions. On 22 June 2003 there was an attempt by protestors or some group from China and Hong Kong to land on the Senkaku Islands using a small fishing vessel. The vessel did not reach the Islands themselves and nobody got onshore. However, it did violate Japanese territorial waters. Therefore, the Japanese Coast Guard took appropriate action to send them out of Japanese territorial waters.
On 15 January 2004 patrol boats from the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces (JMSDF) allegedly attacked two Chinese fishing vessels in waters near the disputed Diaoyutai/Senkaku Islands.
Seven Chinese activists were arrested 24 March 2004 by Japanese police about 10 hours after landing on the main island of the disputed Senkaku Islands earlier in the day. This is the first time Japanese police have arrested Chinese nationals for landing on the islands, claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan. The landing prompted Japan to lodge an official protest with China, while Beijing expressed both concern and criticism over the arrests. Okinawa prefectural police, who have jurisdiction over the area, said they arrested the seven for violating the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi tried to allay concerns that the arrests would have a negative impact on Japan-China relations, explaining: "It is necessary for both parties to handle the case in as calm a manner as possible." Japan's Coast Guard deployed about 20 patrol boats in an effort to step up security around the remote island chain. Tokyo said it would try to prevent more activist visits from inflaming a territorial dispute between the two countries. Chinese activists announced they would postpone a new trip to the islands.
On April 23, 2004 a member of a Japanese right-wing group rammed a bus into the Chinese consulate in in Osaka, western Japan, to protest China's claims to a group of islands at the heart of a long-running territorial row between Beijing and Tokyo. The bus, with the Japanese flag painted on its side, burned after it crashed into the Chinese consulate.
In July 2004 Japan started exploring for natural gas in what it considers its own exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea as a step to counter China's building of a natural gas complex nearby. Japan plans to survey a 30-kilometer-wide band stretching between latitudes 28 and 30 degrees North, just inside the border demarcated by Japan. China disputes Japan's rights to explore the area east of the median line between the two countries, which Japan has proposed as the demarcation line for their exclusive economic zones.
On 09 July 2004 a group of Chinese held a police-approved demonstration outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing afternoon to protest Japan's "illegal" oil exploration activities in a disputed area of the East China Sea. The protesters, organized by Beijing-based organization called the Patriots Alliance Network, shouted slogans for about an hour, during which two embassy staff members came out to take the group's written statement.
Authorities in south China stopped 10 people from setting out for the Senkaku Islands on 19 July 2004 in another attempt to occupy the Japanese-controlled East China Sea territory the activists believe belongs to China. The Communist Party secretary of Sansha Town in Fujian Province sent more than 10 official vehicles to stop the China Federation for Defending the Diaoyu Islands from setting sail, said federation leader Zhang Likun, one of seven people who made it to the islands in March 2004 and sparked a three-day diplomatic row.
A 1,040-ton survey vessel of the Chinese navy was spotted 21 July 2004 in the EEZ some 40 kilometers west of the disputed Senkaku Islands both countries claim, and a 3,536-ton Chinese government marine research ship was found the same day in the EEZ some 340 km southwest of Okinodaito Island in Okinawa Prefecture.
Beijing announced on 19 October 2004 that it would engage in bilateral discussions with Japan to discuss conflicting claims over East China Sea oil exploration. The Japanese government suspects the gas wells being tested may cut into Japan's EEZ, and has demanded that China provide such information as the area covered by the projected deposits. China had not given a substantive response as of early 2005.
On 10 November 2004 a submarine, believed to be a Han-class nuclear powered vessel, spent two hours submerged in Japanese waters, near Taiwan. The incursion prompted Japan's maritime forces to go on alert for only the second time since the end of World War Two. Japan mobilized its maritime forces and chased the sub with destroyers and a patrol plane as it zigzagged submerged toward Chinese waters. On 16 November 2004 Japan said China admitted the mystery submarine was one of its own, and expressed regrets. Japan's Foreign Ministry said the message was conveyed by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei to Japanese Ambassador Koreshige Anami in Beijing. Tokyo says Beijing told it the submarine was on a training mission, and for "technical reasons," it ventured into Japanese waters. Japan's trade minister says he believes that a Chinese submarine was linked to gas exploration by China in a remote island area claimed by both countries. Japan, China and Taiwan all claim possession of a speck of islands called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese. They are about 500 kilometers from Japan's Okinawa Island and 140 kilometers from Taiwan.
In mid-January 2005 Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. and Teikoku Oil Co. began talks with the Japanese government on plans to drill for natural gas in the East China Sea, near areas claimed by both Japan and China. The companies intend to merge their provisional concessions with those of two other firms they plan to take over, with test drilling slated to begin in the fiscal year that starts April 1.
On 09 February 2005 Japan announced that it had placed under state control and protection a lighthouse erected on the largest of the Senkaku islands. The 5.6-meter (18-foot) lighthouse had been erected in 1988 by Japanese right-wing activists to mark a claim to the island. The unexpectedly bold action by Tokyo prompted the Chinese foreign ministry to call the move by Japan " a serious provocation and violation of Chinese territorial sovereignty, which is firmly opposed by the Chinese government and people."
On 13 April 2005 Japan announced it had decided to handle applications of the enterprises the right to oil and gas test-drilling in the waters east to the ''median line'' of the East China Sea. Chinese Foreign Ministry responded that "In defiance of China's legitimate proposition, the Japanese side attempts to impose its unilaterally claimed ''median line'' on China. The Chinese side has never accepted and will not accept it. Japan's action constitutes a severe provocation to the interests of China as well as the norms governing international relations. China has lodged a protest to the Japanese side, and reserves the right for further reaction."
Setting foot on Pengjia islet as the first head of state from Taiwan to ever visit the nation's northernmost territory, on 10 August 2005 President Chen Shui-bian reiterated Taiwan's sovereignty claim over the Diaoyutai islands. Chen was accompanied by both Minister of National Defense Lee Jye and chief of the Coast Guard Administration Hsu Hui-yu. Taiwan fishermen held a large-scale demonstration in July 2005 to protest what they called unfair treatment at the hands of the Japanese coast guard.
Senkaku / Diaoyutai Islands - Escalation Potential
Beijing is attempting to build a navy able to operate effectively in Asia, where China's most vital maritime interests lie. These include sovereignty claims, including the land features and associated water areas of the Diaoyu Tai (or Senkaku Islands).
A major China-Japan military conflict seems improbable. In 2003 bilateral trade between China and Japan reached an all-time high of $120 billion. However, with continued robust growth in China's economy and resultant energy requirements, the discovery of greater oil reserves than previously thought in the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands could enflame the century-old dispute with Japan over sovereignty of these territories. Conservative politics in Japan and a rising nationalist tide in China could further polarize the parties. Both China and Japan would probably realize that their best interests lay in avoiding military conflict, so this should be a limiting factor to a violent resolution.
However, Ian Bremmer, President of the Eurasia Group and a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute., notes the politics of escalation on both sides [International Herald Tribune, May 20, 2005].
"Last year, there were reportedly some 47,000 demonstrations in China. Nearly all took place outside Shanghai and Beijing and were aimed at local - not central - authorities. China's provincial officials therefore have good reason to capitalize on anti-Japanese sentiment and to channel growing social discontent toward Tokyo. ... Local officials are now competing against one another to over-supply China with nationalist fury at Japan.
"The faction within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party loyal to the party's secretary general, Shinzo Abe, is positioning itself for a post-Koizumi era in Japanese politics. They've discovered that reinvigorating Japanese nationalism at China's expense is an effective way of containing the growing popularity of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan and a lot easier than tackling economic reform.
"China-bashing is simply a winning formula in Japanese domestic politics. That's part of why Japan has now expressed a clear interest in Taiwan's security, pushed the envelope on territorial disputes with Beijing, and aligned its position on North Korea's nuclear program more closely with Washington's."
A China-Japan conflict could disrupt the balance of alliances in Northeast Asia. Korea and Taiwan, might side with China in a conflict, while Japan would look to the United States. The US might be called on to defend not only its staunch ally but also the interests of Western oil companies. Thus far the relative calm of the Senkaku dispute -- in contrast to the Spratlys -- may be attributed in part to the presence of US forces nearby.
The US does not take a position on the question of the ultimate sovereignty of the Senkaku Diaoyu Islands. On 14 September 1996, a US State Department spokesman referred to the US's neutral position on the Senkaku Islands issue. On 09 April 1999 US Ambassador to Japan Thomas S. Foley said "The United States notes the Japanese claim to these islands, and we are not, as far as I understand, taking a specific position in the dispute.... We do not believe -that these islands will be the subject of any military conflict, and so consequently, we do not assume that there will be any reason to engage the security treaty in any immediate sense."
The 1960 US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security applies to territories under the administration of Japan, including the Senkaku Islands. In November 1996, Assistant Secretary of Defense Campbell stated that the basic position of the US is that the Japan-US security treaty would cover the Senkaku Islands. Secretary of Defense William Perry reconfirmed this fact on 03 December 1996.
On March 24, 2004, Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman at the US State Deparment said "The Senkaku Islands have been under the administrative control of the Government of Japan since having been returned as part of the reversion of Okinawa in 1972. Article 5 of the 1960 U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security states that the treaty applies to the territories under the administration of Japan; thus, Article 5 of the Mutual Security Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands. Sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands is disputed. The U.S. does not take a position on the question of the ultimate sovereignty of the Senkaku Diaoyu Islands. This has been our longstanding view. We expect the claimants will resolve this issue through peaceful means and we urge all claimants to exercise restraint."
On 10 February 2005 U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton said that Japan's new assertiveness is in line with the desires of many Japanese politicians to take their country beyond its post-World War Two pacifism. "It's a question of the evolution of Japanese thinking on its own. Japan has made it clear they want to resolve all of the territorial disputes by diplomatic means and that's certainly something that we agree with. Our kind of getting in the middle of it is probably not the most productive way to proceed."
After a November 2004 incursion of a Chinese nuclear submarine into Japanese territorial waters, Japan responded in February 2005 with a declaration of formal possession of the Senkaku Islands. This declaration resulted in China sending a warning for Japan to back off or "take full responsibility" on April 14. The extremely strained relations between China and Japan helped to fuel the anti-Japanese demonstrations in April 2005.
The 26 September 2006 election of Shinzo Abe to the post of Japanese Prime Minister suggested a turn for the better in Sino-Japanese relations. Soon after, he was invited by Chinese Premier Wen Jibao for an official visit and China's state media lauded the meeting as a "turning point." Another meeting is scheduled for Although the Senkaku Islands are still disputed, any rapproachment between Japan and China is a step towards eventually resolving the issue.
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