The Presidential Office yesterday said it regretted a remark by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) that the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) are part of Japanese territory and asked Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to reiterate her position on the matter.
Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said Lee’s remark in the latest issue of the Japanese-language Bungeishunju magazine ran counter to historical facts and that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration had reiterated on various occasions that the Republic of China (ROC) government had sovereignty over the islets, which are also claimed by Japan and China.
“It is a historical fact that the Diaoyutai Islands belong to the ROC. It is also the consensus of the ruling and opposition parties,” Lo said. “Chairwoman Tsai has openly declared that the Diaoyutai Islands are part of our territory. We find the former president’s remark unacceptable and undermines our sovereignty.”
While Lee once served as president of the ROC, Lo said it was regretful for Lee to have made such a remark, which Lo described as “ridiculous” and undercutting the nation’s interests.
Lo said he hoped Tsai, as the head of the largest opposition party, would reiterate her position on the matter and protect the sovereignty of the ROC.
Lo said the islets are part of ROC territory, as they are part of Taiwan, which is an “inherent territory” of the ROC.
The island chain was discovered by the Chinese in 1403 during the Ming Dynasty and was documented in official records for hundreds of years, he said.
“It is a fact that can be easily found in historical documents,” he said.
Lo said it was true the Japanese “clandestinely” merged the inhabited Diaoyutai Islands into Japanese territory in January 1895, the year the Qing imperial court signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki with Japan following its defeat in the Sino-Japanese War, which also ceded Taiwan to Japan.
When Japan was defeated in World War II in 1945, Lo said Tokyo surrendered to the ROC government and returned control to Taiwan, Lo said.
“It should also hand back the Diaoyutai Islands,” he said.
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