The Lighthouse as a Sovereignty Symbol

Philippine flag over Pantag Shoal

In the early days of exploration a flag of ownership was placed upon new-found-lands to claim ownership, even though on the other side of the island, or bay there may have been another flag from a different country.

One problem with a flag – it doesn’t last very long.

But build a lighthouse and claim ownership and that light is visible to all peoples for years into the future. Build it high enough and it is visible for 360 degrees. Put some men on it and it becomes your property. Hmmm!

A country's exclusive economic zone - Wiki

Right now in the news there are two island disputes in the South China Sea area that involve China and the Philippines – a stand-off over the Panatag Shoal (Huangyan Island; aka Scarborough Shoal) where China is contesting the Philippines’ internationally recognised exclusive economic zone, and China and Japan – an age-old dispute  surrounding the group of islands called Senkaku by the Japanese and Diaoyu by the Chinese.

Both of these island groups have had lighthouses built upon them.

Japan‘s Shintaro Ishihara once helped raise money to build a lighthouse on the main island of the Senkaku chain and later helped to have a later replacement lighthouse recorded on official navigation charts.China is now trying to claim them. – Wall Street Journal/Asia 

An 8.3 meter high flag pole flying a Philippine flag was raised in 1965. A small lighthouse was also built and operated the same year.[9] In 1992, the Philippine Navy rehabilitated the lighthouse and reported it to the International Maritime Organization for publication in the List of Lights. As of 2009, the military-maintained lighthouse is non-operational. – Wikipedia

Disputed zones in the South China Sea

“I built the first lighthouse on them. They are my islands!” Nice idea. I think i will try it on an isolated island. I might even be able to set up a new country, but one problem – most countries have water boundaries around them – not only for fishing, shipping and such, but also as territorial boundaries.

For example, Canada is in a dispute with the USA over Machias Island.(aka Machias Seal island) Canada built a lighthouse there in 1832 so it belongs to Canada right? Well, this is one lighthouse that will not be automated for a long time. It will remain manned by Canadians to hold onto their sovereignty of the island, but it is still in dispute.

I am not even going to mention the Spratly Islands. I think every country in Asia on the China Sea claims them, but it might be worthwhile building a lighthouse and staking a claim!

 So let’s all go build a lighthouse and claim some land – seems to work better than a flag.



Spratly Islands

The Spratly Islands are a group of more than 750 reefs,[2] islets, atolls, cays and islands in the South China Sea. The archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines and Malaysia (Sabah), about one third of the way from there to southern Vietnam. They contain less than four square kilometers of land area spread over more than 425,000 square kilometers of sea. The Spratlys are one of three archipelagos of the South China Sea which comprise more than 30,000 islands and reefs and which complicate governance and economics in that region of Southeast Asia. Such small and remote islands have little economic value in themselves, but are important in establishing international boundaries. There are no native islanders but there are, at least for now, rich fishing grounds; and initial surveys indicate the islands may contain significant reserves of oil and natural gas.

About 45 islands are occupied by relatively small numbers of military forces from Vietnam, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Malaysia and the Philippines. Brunei has also claimed an Exclusive Economic Zone in the southeastern part of the Spratlys encompassing just one area of small islands above mean high water (on Louisa Reef). This has led to escalating tensions over the Islands’ disputed status.

December 28, 2012 – Aljazeera Asia-pacific Philippines claims South China Sea islands

Filipinos have settled on Thitu Island as a means to strengthen the country’s claim on the Spratlys.

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Thitu Island is at the centre of one of the biggest territorial disputes in the world.

It is part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which are believed to be sitting on billions of dollars’ worth of oil and gas reserves.

Six countries claim ownership of the tiny archipelago, including the Philippines, which has people living on Thitu Island as a means to strengthen its claim on the Spratlys.

Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan reports from the Spratlys in the South China Sea.


Huangyan Island/Scarborough Shoal – China, Philippines & Taiwan

October 08, 2012 – China has de facto control over Huangyan Island: Philippine official

A former Philippine foreign affairs official said Friday at a University of the Philippines forum that Panatag Shoal (Chinese Huangyan Island) is now under the de facto control of China, according to a GMA News report.
The senior official was identified as former Philippine foreign affairs undersecretary Lauro Baja Jr., who also served as former Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Remember, China roped off the area and no fishermen and no vessels from the Philippines can go in,” he was quoted as speaking on the topic “Challenges to Philippine Foreign Relations.
“The dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea] is the toughest challenge in foreign relations, diplomacy and foreign policy. We need a well thought-out, short to long-term foreign policy,” said Baja.
However, the Philippine government will not officially admit that it has lost control of the area.
The Philippine official called for stronger action to restore the Philippines’ presence in the area.
Baja also urges the Philippine government to explore a bilateral code of conduct with China over territorial issues. He said aside from the bilateral talks, a multilateral agreement should also be in place for overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

Scarborough Shoal or Scarborough Reef, also known as Huangyan Island[2][3] (simplified Chinese: 黄岩岛; traditional Chinese:黃岩島; pinyinHuáng​yán​ Dǎo​) or Panatag Shoal[4] (FilipinoKulumpol ng Panatag), is located between the Macclesfield Bank and Luzon Island of the Philippines in the South China Sea. It is more correctly described as a group of rocks or very small islands plus reefs in an atoll shape, rather than as a shoal. The shoal was named after the East India Company tea-trade ship Scarborough which was wrecked on one of its rocks with everyone perished on board on 12 September 1784.[5][6]

Scarborough Shoal is a disputed territory claimed by the People’s Republic of ChinaRepublic of China (Taiwan) and Philippines – Wikipedia 

Diaoyu Islands/Senkaku Islands/Tiaoyutai Islands – China, Japan & Taiwan

October 31, 2012 – Diaoyu or Senkaku Islands?

Spoiler title

Diaoyu or Senkaku Islands?

 By: S M Hali | October 31, 2012
As neighbours, China and Japan have a chequered history mingled with periods of conflict and peace. Following the second Sino-Japanese war, China was occupied by Japan between 1937 and 1945. The war was a consequence of decades-long Japanese imperialist policy aiming to dominate China politically and militarily, and to secure its vast raw material reserves and other economic resources.

Before 1937, China and Japan fought in small, localised engagements. In 1931, however, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria by its Kwantung Army, followed by the Mukden Incident and other skirmishes, including the Marco Polo Bridge Affair, led to total war in 1937. In its wake, China’s occupation left a number of irritants in Sino-Japanese relations. The latest standoff is the issue of Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, whose ownership is claimed by both countries.

Perceiving the issue impartially, one comes across recorded legal documents indicating Chinese possession since ancient times. The islands were discovered and claimed by China, and its territorial waters have been exploited by Chinese fishermen since primeval era. Records of these islands date back to as early as the 15th century. They were referred as Diaoyu in books, such as Voyage with a Tail Wind; Shùnfēng Xiāngsòng (1403) and Record of the Imperial Envoy’s Visit to Ryūkyū; Shĭ Liúqiú Lù (1534). Adopted by the imperial map of Ming Dynasty, the Chinese name for the island group Diaoyu meant fishing; the documents showed that they were put under the navy’s jurisdiction as affiliated islands of Taiwan.

Japan, on the other hand, refers to them as Senkaku Islands, which comprise five uninhabited islets and three barren rocks. These minor features in the East China Sea are located approximately 120 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, 200 nautical miles east of the Chinese mainland and 200 nautical miles southwest of the Japanese island of Okinawa.

Japan gained possession of the Diaoyu Islands in 1895, when facing imminent defeat in the Sino-Japanese war, China’s Qing government was forced to sign the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki and cede to it “the island of Formosa (Taiwan), together with all islands appertaining or belonging to the island of Formosa.“

At the end of World War II, following Japan’s defeat, the US laid claim to all Japanese territory. However, in accordance with the Potsdam Declaration (which Japan accepted as part of the San Francisco Peace Treaty), Tokyo was forced to relinquish control of all islands, except for Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku that comprise modern Japan. Thus, China regained its ownership of the Diaoyu Islands.

Japan contested its ownership, but remained inactive till 1968. But when the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) identified potential undersea oil and gas reserves near the islands, it prompted Japan to lay stake over the Diaoyu Islands. In 1971, Tokyo and Washington signed the Okinawa Reversion Agreement that arbitrarily included the Diaoyu Islands in the territories and territorial waters to be reversed to Japan. From the very beginning, Beijing has firmly opposed and never acknowledged such backdoor deals between Japan and the US concerning Chinese territories.

During the negotiations on the normalisation of China-Japan relations in 1972, and the signing of the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1978, the then leaders of the two countries, acting in larger interest reached an important understanding and common ground on “leaving the issue of the Diaoyu Island to be resolved later.“ This normalised their relations and was followed by tremendous progress in the bilateral ties, and also stability and tranquillity in East Asia in the following 40 years.

Since the advent of 2012, Japan has stirred up the issue and things came to a head on August 18, when a flotilla of four boats carrying about 150 Japanese activists organised by the rightwing group, Ganbare Nippon, arrived at the islands under the plea of commemorating Japan’s World War II deaths in the area. Despite being denied permission, several activists swam to the islands, making an unauthorised landing on Uotsuri, where they raised Japanese flags.

On close scrutiny, Japan’s annexation of the Diaoyu Island, along with the affiliated Nan Xiaodao and Bei Xiaodao through its September 2012 illegal purchase and subsequent nationalisation of the islands, appears to be unlawful and contrary to historical facts. The standoff, however, can still be resolved peacefully through negotiations.

The writer is a political and defence analyst. Email:


The Senkaku Islands ( Senkaku-shotō?, variants: 尖閣群島 Senkaku-guntō[1] and 尖閣列島 Senkaku-rettō[2]), also known as the Diaoyu Islands (Chinese钓鱼附属岛屿pinyinDiàoyúdǎo jí qí fùshǔ dǎoyǔ; also simply 钓鱼岛) in Mainland China or Tiaoyutai Islands (Chinese釣魚pinyinDiàoyútái liè yǔ) in Taiwan,[3] or the Pinnacle Islands, are a group of uninhabited islands controlled by Japan in the East China Sea. They are located roughly due east of Mainland China, northeast of Taiwan, west of Okinawa Island, and north of the southwestern end of the Ryukyu Islands. – Wikipedia 

Takeshima/Dokdo – Japan & Taiwan

October 24, 2012 – Restored Japanese gov’t map shows Dokdo as Korean territory

A deteriorated map created by the Japanese government has been restored in South Korea and shows the easternmost islets of Dokdo as Korean territory, officials said Wednesday, in what they say is yet more proof refuting Japan’s claims to the islets.

The back of the map, printed on both sides of the paper in 1936, was unreadable because it had been pasted over with a sheet of thick paper. After five months of efforts, the National Archives of Korea, an agency charged with preserving government records, restored the original version of the map.

The map is one of few copies in existence that played an important role for Allied forces to recognize Dokdo as Korean territory shortly after Japan’s World War II surrender, a scholar said.

Shin Yong-ha, a chair professor at the University of Ulsan and head of the Dokdo Institute, said the map “provided important grounds for Allied forces to recognize Dokdo as our territory on Aug. 15, 1945, when Japan surrendered.”

The map was donated in 1988 by bibliographer Lee Jong-hak to the Independence Hall of Korea.

Dokdo, which lies closer to Korea in the body of water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, has long been a thorn in bilateral relations. Korea keeps a small police detachment on the islets, effectively controlling them.

Koreans view Japan’s claim over Dokdo as tantamount to denying its rights because the country regained independence from the 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule and reclaimed sovereignty over its territory, which includes Dokdo and many other islands around the Korean Peninsula. (Yonhap)

October 15, 2012 – 1902 Japanese Documents Say Dokdo Is Korean

An official Japanese document from 1902 records Dokdo as Korean territory. /Courtesy of Yuji Hosaka

An official Japanese document from 1902 recognizes Korea’s sovereignty over Dokdo, three years before Japan’s Shimane Prefecture forcefully incorporated the islets. 

The document, which was submitted to the Japanese government by the Japanese Consulate in Busan in May 1902, refers to Dokdo as “Liancourt Rocks” and Ulleung Island as the “main island” of Dokdo. It was found in the diplomatic archives of the Japanese Foreign Ministry by Park Byung-sup, a Korean-Japanese expert in history. 

Yuji Hosaka, a Dokdo expert at Sejong University and a naturalized Korean citizen, received the document from Park and showed it to the Chosun Ilbo on Sunday. 

A section entitled “Fisheries Status” in the document states that there are “three small islands around 5 nautical miles directly east of” Ulleung. It says they are the so-called Liancourt Rocks, but “mainlanders (Japanese) refer to them as Pine Island.”

It adds that Japanese fishermen venture to Dokdo to catch abalone but cannot stay long due to a lack of potable water there. 

Japan has so far claimed that Shimane Prefecture incorporated Dokdo, which was no man’s land, in 1905. But Shin Yong-ha at University of Ulsan said, “In 1900, the Korean Empire officially proclaimed Ulleng Island, the main island, and Jukdo and Seokdo (Dokdo), small islets near it, as part of Korean territory.” Shin added the 1902 Japanese document also refers to Ulleung Island as main island and Dokdo as attached to it, demonstrating that Japan indirectly recognized them as part of Korea. / Oct. 15, 2012 10:50 KST

The Liancourt Rocks, also known as Dokdo or Tokto (독도/獨島, literally “solitary island”) in Korean, and Takeshima (たけしま/竹島?, literally “bamboo island”) in Japanese,[1] are a group of small islets in the Sea of Japan (East Sea). Sovereignty over the islets isdisputed between Japan and South Korea. South Korea classifies the islets as Dokdo-ri,[2] Ulleung-eup, Ulleung CountyNorth Gyeongsang Province. Japan classifies them as part of OkinoshimaOki DistrictShimane Prefecture.

The Franco-English name of the islets derives from Le Liancourt, the name of a French whaling ship which came close to being wrecked on the rocks in 1849.[3]

The Liancourt Rocks consist of two main islets and 35 smaller rocks; the total surface area of the islets is 0.18745 square kilometres (46.32 acres), with the highest elevation of 169 metres (554 ft) found at an unnamed location on the west islet.[4]Wikipedia 

Socotra Rock – China & Taiwan

Socotra Rock Coordinates32°07′22.63″N 125°10′56.81″Eis a submerged rock 4.6 metres (15 ft) below sea level (at low tide) located in the East China Sea.International maritime law stipulates that a submerged rock can’t be claimed as territory by any nation.[1] However, the rock is the subject of a territorial dispute between South Korea, which considers it to lie within its exclusive economic zone, referring to it as Ieodo (이어도/離於島; MR: Iŏdo) or Parangdo (파랑도/波浪島; MR: P’arangdo),[2] and China, which considers it to lie within its exclusive economic zone and refers to it as Suyan Rock (苏岩礁). The rock currently serves as the foundation for Korean Ieodo Ocean Research Station.[3] A helipad is also located there to allow the research station to be serviced.

The rock is located 149 kilometres (80 nmi; 93 mi) southwest of Marado (just off Jeju island), Korea. For Japan, the island ofTorishima, which is 275 km (148 nmi; 171 mi) away, is the closest territory to Socotra Rock; and for China, Yushan Islandof Zhejiang,[4] 287 km (178 mi) away, is nearest to Socotra Rock. – Wikipedia 


Diaoyu Islands/Scarborough Shoal Conflict – China vs Philippines 

October 03, 2012 – Island plans by Tokyo’s nationalist governor may stoke fresh China tensions

(Reuters) – Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, a fiery nationalist whose failed bid to buy a group of disputed islands ignited a crisis with China, is pushing ahead with a plan to build structures there to hammer home Japan’s claim, officials involved told Reuters.

They claim that construction of a lighthouse, radio transmitter or basic harbor facilities would increase safety for Japanese fishermen. It was not clear how — or even whether — such private funds could be used for construction on government property.

October 01, 2012 – Phl denies mass deployment of troops in disputed territories

MANILA, Philippines – The military on Monday denied reports stating that 800 Marines have been deployed to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to protect the Philippines’ interests in the area.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said only less than 80 Marine soldiers have been sent to the area to administer two Marine battalions.

. . . On Sunday, China said it is speeding up the projects in Sansha City despite the protests by the Philippines, which claims that the establishment of the city violates its sovereignty.

China said Sansha authorities started crafting development plans for the city Saturday.

The infrastructure projects in the disputed area include road construction, water supply and drainage on Yongxing Island, the seat of the city government. –

Are they going to build a lighthouse too? – retlkpr

September 26, 2012 – Japan, Taiwan in disputed isle water cannon duel

Coastguard vessels from Japan and Taiwan duelled with water cannon after dozens of Taiwanese boats escorted by patrol ships sailed into waters around Tokyo-controlled islands.
Japanese coastguard ships sprayed water at the fishing vessels, footage on national broadcaster NHK showed on Tuesday, with the Taiwanese patrol boats directing their own high-pressure hoses at the Japanese ships.

The large-scale breach of what Japan considers sovereign territory — one of the biggest since WWII — is the latest escalation in a row over ownership of the islands that pits Tokyo against Beijing and Taipei.

The intrusion complicates an already volatile territorial dispute with China, which is also locked in a separate row over the strategic South China Sea against claims by several nations including the Philippines.

September 21, 2012 – Why doesn’t China just buy the Senkaku islands?

If the Japanese government can pay roughly $2 billion to buy the islands from a private family, why can’t China pay the same amount (or whatever the market will bear) to obtain them from Japan? After all, the PRC is pretty flush with cash these days, and Japan could use some extra money (although ~$2 billion isn’t really that much). Still, why not just view this as a simple matter of business?

September 21, 2012 – Noynoy Screws up the Scarborough Shoals Issue

Philippine president dispatches loose cannon to Beijing, gets wounded

President Benigno S. Aquino III is enjoying a surge of popularity at home, with a 78 percent approval rating against only 4 percent negatives, but his latest foray into foreign policy and relations with China has made the Philippines look silly abroad.

 September 14, 2012 – Philippines Stirs Tensions By Renaming Disputed Part Of South China Sea –

On Thursday, the Philippines’ president Benigno Aquino announced that he had approved the name change so as “to clarify which of the areas we are claiming.”

Aquino added that under Administrative Order (AO) No. 29, the area surrounding the nation’s western sea board – including the Luzon Sea and the waters around the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo De Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal – would be henceforth referred to by the new name, with the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) ordered to “produce and publish charts and maps of the Philippines reflecting the West Philippine Sea [as part of the Philippines]”.


June 15, 2012 – Scarborough Shoal: It’s PH map vs China map



June 13, 2012 US military to help Philippines monitor coastal waters



June 08, 2012  – The US Will Open Massive Philippine Bases Not Occupied Since The Cold War



June 07, 2012 – Sea Tensions Deepen With China’s Rise


June 06, 2012Philippines says tensions ease in China Sea row

May 30, 2012 – China, Philippines Face Off Over Remote Islands

May 25, 2012 – Philippines urged to cease all provocations

May 24, 2012 – China Blames Philippines for More Ships in Disputed Sea

May 22, 2012 – Coast Guard cutter heading to Philippines

May 17, 2012 – Philippines to drill at China-claimed reef

May 12, 2012 – Philippines lacks legal ground to go to tribunal (this is a great article on International Law)

April 19, 2012 – Could disputed East China Sea islands be sold?

April 20, 2012 – Philippines says new China ship aggravates sea row

April 23, 2012 – Philippines warns neighbours about China

January 19, 2012 Japan Tsunami: Explorers Reveal New Information About Expected Debris

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Takeshima/Dokdo – Japan vs Taiwan

October 15, 2012 – 1902 Japanese Documents Say Dokdo Is Korean

An official Japanese document from 1902 records Dokdo as Korean territory. /Courtesy of Yuji Hosaka

An official Japanese document from 1902 recognizes Korea’s sovereignty over Dokdo, three years before Japan’s Shimane Prefecture forcefully incorporated the islets.

The document, which was submitted to the Japanese government by the Japanese Consulate in Busan in May 1902, refers to Dokdo as “Liancourt Rocks” and Ulleung Island as the “main island” of Dokdo. It was found in the diplomatic archives of the Japanese Foreign Ministry by Park Byung-sup, a Korean-Japanese expert in history.

Yuji Hosaka, a Dokdo expert at Sejong University and a naturalized Korean citizen, received the document from Park and showed it to the Chosun Ilbo on Sunday.

A section entitled “Fisheries Status” in the document states that there are “three small islands around 5 nautical miles directly east of” Ulleung. It says they are the so-called Liancourt Rocks, but “mainlanders (Japanese) refer to them as Pine Island.”

It adds that Japanese fishermen venture to Dokdo to catch abalone but cannot stay long due to a lack of potable water there.

Japan has so far claimed that Shimane Prefecture incorporated Dokdo, which was no man’s land, in 1905. But Shin Yong-ha at University of Ulsan said, “In 1900, the Korean Empire officially proclaimed Ulleng Island, the main island, and Jukdo and Seokdo (Dokdo), small islets near it, as part of Korean territory.” Shin added the 1902 Japanese document also refers to Ulleung Island as main island and Dokdo as attached to it, demonstrating that Japan indirectly recognized them as part of Korea.

October 05, 2012 – South Korea, Japan spar over tiny islands

These islands, administered by South Korea but claimed by Japan, provide a window into Asia’s fastest-growing problem: the fight over small bits of land that have oversize and symbolic importance.

In the case of these islands, known as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, the show of Korean control is pushed to extremes: Only two civilians live on these islands — a fisherman and his wife — but three South Korean telecommunications companies provide the islands with 3G cell phone service.

The stouter of the main islands has a helicopter pad, a lighthouse, a weight room, a small branch of the South Korean national library and a dormitory. Forty-five police live on this island, as do two civil servants and three lighthouse attendants. There are no women. There is one dog, named Seodo.

Diaoyu Islands (钓鱼岛 – diào yú dǎo – Fishing Islands)/Senkaku Islands Conflict – China vs Japan & Taiwan

Wikipedia article

October 14, 2012 – Negotiation best resolution for China-Japan islands row

By Wang Aihua (Xinhua)
08:30, October 16, 2012
BEIJING, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) — More than a month after Japan started a bitter territorial row with China over the Diaoyu Islands, Japan has let out signals that it is willing to sit down and talk things through. Negotiation, after all, is the best way to solve disputes in a modern world.

Last week, senior diplomats of the two countries exchanged visits and agreed to hold a new round of bilateral vice ministerial-level talks to seek a breakthrough regarding the Diaoyu dispute, which had already damaged economic relations between Asia’s two largest economies.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry said an agreement was reached at a meeting in Tokyo between Shinsuke Sugiyama, head of the Japanese ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and Luo Zhaohui, director general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Asian Affairs Department.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Friday that China and Japan had launched vice ministerial-level talks over the Diaoyu Islands on Sept. 25, during which China reiterated its stance on the territory and demanded that Japan admit its mistakes.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Japan should sincerely correct its mistakes and take concrete action while contributing to upcoming talks.

The prospect of new vice ministerial-level talks, about the highest level of diplomatic exchange that could take place to resolve territorial disputes, brings hope to the current quagmire dragging the two countries down in the disheartening global economic outlook.

Fanned by the Diaoyu dispute, huge anti-Japan protests and voluntary boycotts of Japanese products caused trade between China and Japan in the January-September period to fall by 1.8 percent from a year earlier.

Widely canceled trips by Chinese tourists to Japan also dimmed its tourism industry, particularly during the just-concluded “Golden Week” national holiday that encompassed National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival.

Given the prospective economic losses to the two countries and the world at large, negotiating a pact that can protect each other’s territorial dignity and be acceptable to both sides would indeed be a “win-win solution.”

In fact, people still remember the guideline put up by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and described as “laying aside differences and engaging in joint exploitation.”

After all, under this guideline, the Diaoyu Islands had been well taken care of for decades and the two countries had been at peace.

Besides superficial satisfaction, nominal ownership of the uninhabited islands could do no real good to Japan, as China claims sovereignty over the waters and sends ships to patrol them.

The two sides now need to perform a sidestep to ease tensions. It is also important for the United States, a long-time ally of Japan, to honor its commitment of “not taking sides” on the Diaoyu issue.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns is visiting Tokyo and meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba before starting a two-day visit to China on Tuesday.

In a meeting with Burns on Monday, Gemba sought U.S. understanding of Japan’s position on disputed islands in the East China Sea, according to Japanese media reports. Burns is also scheduled to meet with Chinese officials to “exchange views on bilateral relations and international and regional issues of common concern,” spokesman Hong Lei said.

After an extravagant navy showcase on Sunday, Tokyo seems set to proceed in November with a joint drill with the United States that will simulate a “retaking of a remote island from foreign forces.”

With the pending outcome of the U.S. presidential election next month, Japan should realize that its over-dependence on the United States risks pushing itself to the edge of isolation from Asian neighbors.

Japanese politicians should be working to mend the holes they have created in bilateral relations with China rather than taking aggression one step further.

For Japan, healthy relations with its neighboring countries are just as important as one with the United States, both economically and strategically.

October 13, 2012 – Call It Senkakudiaoyu? China & Japan Agree To Share Vast Offshore Oil

China and Japan sat down for talks and agreed to jointly develop a natural gas field under the East China Sea, defusing a dispute between Asia’s biggest economies over who owns the reserves. That was in 2008.

The accord, hailed as a model for cooperation at the time, has yet to be carried out and the countries now face a new territorial dispute, also in the East China Sea. The quarrel over who owns the uninhabited islands called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan is again linked to a prize beneath the ocean that may hold enough oil to keep China running for 45 years.

Barely noticeable on a map, yet the cause of so much drama.(

October 08, 2012 – A Big Fuss Over Small Islands

Covering an area of just 7 square kilomesters and composed of five uninhabited islands and three large rocks, they lie east of Mainland China, northeast of Taiwan, and southwest of Okinawa, Japan. They are known as the Senkaku Islands in Japanese, and are called the “Fishing Islands” (钓鱼岛 – diào yú dǎo) in Chinese.


Way back in 1885, the Japanese Governor of Okinawa petitioned the Meiji government to incorporate the islands into Japanese territory. Higher-up officials didn’t want to do so, however, as they knew the islands had a Chinese name and were near the border of the Qing Empire. According to China, these islands have been known to and controlled by China for hundreds of years. They point to a book called Voyage With the Tail Wind (顺风相送 – shùn fēng xiāng sòng) written in 1403 which recorded the names of the islands. By 1534, another book titled Record of the Imperial Envoy’s Visit to Ryukyu (使琉球錄 – shǐ liú qiú lù) had identified and named them all.

October 08, 2012 – Japan’s ‘incorporation’ of Dokdo in 1905 was not just about sea lions

A newly forged cultural agreement will reinforce relations between the two countries

The explanation presented by the Japanese government on the annexation of Dokdo is oversimplified. Nakai Yozaburo, a resident of Shimane Prefecture in Japan, wished to obtain a exclusive permit to hunt sea lions on Dokdo, according to the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1904, he filed a petition with the Japanese government and the islets were subsequently “incorporated” into Japanese territory on Jan. 28, 1905, it says. 

There are untold facts in the MOFA’s account, however. At that time, Japan was at war with Russia over supremacy in Korea and Manchuria. Surveillance information and communication were vital and Japanese officials found the island a potentially useful base for monitoring Russian ships and laying submarine cables. Meanwhile, Nakai submitted a request for the incorporation and lease of the islets as suggested by Maki Bokushin, then director of the fishery bureau at the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce. Two years earlier, however, Maki wrote a recommendation for a book, titled “Kankai tsgyo shishin,” or “A Guide to Fisheries in Korean Waters,” which apparently suggested that Dokdo was Korean territory.