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The Territorial Disputes between Japan and China over Senkaku/ Diaoyu Islands Introduction
The maritime dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dates back to many decades. The main issue in the dispute has been on the ownership of sovereignty over the islands. In modern times, the dispute may be said to have been triggered by Japan’s move to claim sovereignty over the Islands in 1895. Tensions arising from the dispute continued to exist after the World War II, during which time it remained unclear where the demarcation line in East Asia ought to be under the international law. To date, no solution has been found for the stalemate, and focus is primarily on ensuring that the dispute does not escalate into a full-blown military confrontation or worse, an all-out war. A number of factors are at play in the dispute, and the main ones include economic interests, historical grievances, international law requirements, nationalism, and domestic politics (Drifte 12). In this dispute, China claims that Diaoyu and its surrounding islands are an integral part of its territory. It supports its claims using legal terms, geographical considerations, and historical ties with the islands. China further argues that Japan’s longstanding claim on the islands is based on the developments of the Sino-Japanese War, which was fought between 1894 and 1895, whereby the country allegedly seized the islands from China through illegal means. China further argues that Japan’s claim to the islands was further reinforced when Washington placed them under its trusteeship after Japan occupied the islands after the war. In contrast, Japan’s claim on the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands is anchored on the argument that it surveyed them for a decade during the nineteenth century and found out that they were uninhabited, thereby occasioning a move by the country to erect a sovereign marker on it and to incorporate it into Japanese territory. When the World War II ended, the islands were put under U.S. trusteeship before the power of administration over them was finally returned to Japan in 1971 (He 4). Japan insists that China did not raise objections when the islands were put under the trusteeship of the United States, and that it is only after the subject of oil resources in the islands emerged that China started pressing its claims. The latest development in the dispute occurred in September 2012 when Japan purchased three of the five islands (Drifte 14). This move triggered protests in China, followed by a rapid build-up of potentially dangerous military activity by both countries near the disputed islands. The aim of this paper is to investigate the territorial disputes between Japan and China Senkaku Diaoyu Islands. The paper not only examines the significance of the islands for the two countries but also evaluates the validity of Chinese and Japanese claims to the islands. It also addresses the political aspects of the territorial dispute, particularly the issues of Chinese and Japanese nationalism. The paper also assesses prospects of an armed conflict between China and Japan over the territorial dispute. In this regard, one development that is worthy of speciﬁc notice is the circumstances on both the Chinese and Japanese sides that may be said to have greatly contributed to the avoidance of armed conflict over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. The paper also analyzes the role of U.S.-Japan military partnership in the dispute. Lastly, the role of International law in resolving the dispute is highlighted. Overview of the Territorial Disputes
The disputes over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands between Japan and China may be said to have started in 1895 following the Japanese annexation of the East Asian islands. However, the two countries did not consider the dispute a major issue until the discovery of hydrocarbon minerals...
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