KARACHI: “The Senkaku Islands are an inherent part of the territory of Japan in the light of historical facts and based upon international law,” Consul General of Japan in Karachi Toshikazu Isomura told a seminar held at the Japan Information and Culture Centre here on Saturday.
Senkaku is a cluster of islands controlled by Japan in the China Sea. According to Mr Isomura, Japan has been maintaining its control over the islands for more than 120 years and it was only from the 1970s that China began to claim its sovereignty over them.
“In 1885, the Okinawa Prefecture launched an investigation into the status of Senkaku Islands. At that time, Japan had carefully confirmed that they were un-inhabited and not under the control of any other state. Ten years later, the islands were incorporated into Okinawa Prefecture through a cabinet decision and brought under Japanese control,” he explained.
This claim was accepted by China too, he said and produced several documented examples. Apart from this fact being printed in China’s state-owned newspapers, he said, in May 1920, a letter of appreciation was sent from the consul of the Republic of China in Nagasaki, indicating that China recognised Senkaku Islands as part of Okinawa in Japan.
“China and Taiwan began to claim their sovereignty over the islands after discovery of potential oil reserves in the East China Sea,” Mr Isomura said.
According to the Japanese claim, Taiwan’s ministry of foreign affairs claimed sovereignty over the islands in June 1971 and from then onwards China and Taiwan not only changed their laws and administrative limits, they also altered textbooks, maps and geographical texts to create their respective claims over the islands.
Dr Khalil-ur Rehman Sheikh quoted the Palmas case of 1928 between the US and Netherlands which was also a similar territorial dispute over the island of Palmas which is now part of Indonesia. Dr Sheikh said that the case was referred to the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Both countries forwarded documents backing their claims and eventually a decision was made. A similar trajectory can be adopted by China and Japan to resolve this territorial dispute, he summed up.
Founder member of the Pakistan-Japan Intellect Forum Iqbal Burma gave a detailed presentation of the history of Senkaku Islands. Since the strategic importance of the islands became visible due to the presence of oil and gas there, the islands are being claimed by China and Taiwan. This stems from their desire to establish an exclusive economic zone in the area that will give sovereign rights to exploit, conserve and manage the natural resources of the islands, according to him.
Dr Hammadullah Kakepoto spoke about the need for swiftly and diplomatically resolving the territorial dispute between the two allies of Pakistan. “The usual way to resolve a dispute is by direct bilateral negotiations. And if they are not able to do so, a third party, such as a government, a private individual or an international organisation, may offer, or be requested, to play a facilitating role,” he suggested.
Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2018