The 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed by 48 countries, including Japan and the US, but excluding Taiwan and China.
Ambiguities in this peace treaty have caused international territorial disputes — even more so today — over Taiwan, the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台, or Senkaku in Japan) in the East China Sea and so on.
Japan gave up Taiwan and the Spratly Islands without specifying the beneficiaries, whereas Korea was allowed to be independent. Okinawa, presumably including the Senkaku, was placed under US trusteeship. In 1972, the US returned Okinawa to Japan.
China claims Taiwan as its territory and does not exclude the use of force to annex the country. Not surprisingly, about 88 percent of Taiwanese high-school and college students surveyed consider China the country the most unfriendly toward it.
Taiwan is an independent country, although the current administration considers Taiwan a part of China. Only 26 countries recognize Taiwan and the UN does not accept Taiwan as a member. The US has the Taiwan Relations Act to defend Taiwan if attacked, but some Americans have brought up the idea of “ditching” Taiwan to help the US’ economy or to please China.
The Spratlys consist of 75 isles and are claimed in part or whole by China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei. The South China Sea has become a hot-zone of territorial disputes recently.
The Diaoyutais are claimed by Japan and Taiwan, with China also staking a claim. Now China is negotiating with Japan, while the US acts as mediator — in the absence of Taiwan’s participation.
One way to solve these disputes is to let the long-term inhabitants of the islands decide their own future. Uninhabited islands shall be maintained as neutral.