The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should re-examine its “Japan-friendly” position over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) controversy and former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) made a mistake in publicly saying that the islands belong to Japan, former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said yesterday.
The outspoken Lu also warned that Taiwan should never underestimate the dispute and the islands’ strategic implication, saying that if Beijing took over the Diaoyutais, its next annexation target could be Taiwan.
The DPP has always been a pro-Japan party, but the party has been “too pro-Japan” in the dispute and it is time for it to review its Japan policy, Lu told a “China Watch” forum organized by her office.
Regarding the comments made by Lee that the sovereignty of the islands — known as the Senkakus in Japan — lay with Tokyo, Lu said Lee “should not have made the remark publicly as a former president who served for 12 years, even if that is his opinion.”
Lu said Taiwan should assert its claim to the Diaoyutais based on facts from recent history — such as the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 — rather than by referring to vague documents from the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
Former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) twice rejected then-US president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s suggestion to take over the Ryukyu Islands and the Diaoyutais when Chiang, Roosevelt and then-British prime minister Winston Churchill met in Cairo, Egypt, for post-World War II negotiations in 1943, Lu said.
The most important question in the territorial fight over the Diaoyutais between Taiwan, Japan and China was whether the islands were ceded by the Qing Dynasty to Japan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895, Lu said.
If they were, she said, the condition would apply to Article 2 of the San Francisco Treaty, which stated that “Japan renounces all right, title and claim to Formosa and the Pescadores.”
If they were not, then the islands would be seen as part of the Nansei Shoto, or the Ryukyus, which were placed under UN trusteeship with the US as their sole administering authority as stated in Article 3, she added.
Yilan County Councilor Lin Chyi-shan (林棋山) said the fishing grounds near the Diaoyutais produce about 60 percent of the catch in Nanfangao (南方澳), which was why the dispute has always been a issue about the livelihoods of locals.
Lin added that “only playing hardball worked for containing the Japanese,” who had treated Taiwanese fishing boats rudely, as he once gathered 60 boats in the region to challenge a Japanese vessel, which later retreated.
Ho Szu-shen (何思慎), a professor at Fu Jen Catholic University, said Taiwan should keep asserting its sovereignty, but should not collaborate with China on the matter.
Improved Taiwan-China relations would not be detrimental to Japan because Tokyo would try to limit China’s activity in the waters surrounding the Diaoyutais through Taiwan, Ho said.
Tamkang University professor Wong Ming-hsien (翁明賢) said Taiwan should try to assess its strategy under the framework of regional politics and the US’ “pivot to Asia” rather than the trilateral relations between Taiwan, China and Japan.