From 1945 until 1971, the islands were under US trusteeship, and in 1972 they were returned to the jurisdiction of Okinawa Prefecture.
It should be noted that contemporary Chinese newspapers reported on Japan’s declaration of its occupation of the Diaoyutais in 1885, but the Qing Dynasty government did not raise any objection either at the time of Japan’s declaration or thereafter.
The Republic of China (ROC), which followed the Qing Dynasty, did not protest about it either, and neither did the People’s Republic of China (PRC) complain about it before 1970. In fact, it even published maps showing the Diaoyutai Islands as belonging to Japan.
Taiwanese should note that when Japan installed national markers on the Diaoyutai Islands on Jan. 14, 1895, the First Sino-Japanese War was still raging.
Although the Chinese navy was suffering one defeat after another, it had not yet surrendered. Therefore the Diaoyutai Islands issue is not related to the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which was signed on April 17, 1895.
Besides, the map of Taiwan that was delineated in the Treaty of Shimonoseki does not include the Diaoyutais. This means that Ma’s statement that the Diaoyutai Islands were ceded to Japan together with Taiwan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki is untrue.
Lai Fu-shun is a professor in the Department of History at Chinese Culture University.
Translated by Julian Clegg