Taiwan needs to find “critical dates” recognized by the international laws to better assert its claim of sovereignty over the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) and to counter Japan’s claim, academics and researchers said yesterday at a forum.
“Substantial jurisdiction will prevail against the mere citing of historical maps and records that are hard to track and confirm. In that sense, without a doubt Japan holds legitimacy over its claim of the Senkaku Islands under international law,” said Wang Hoon-ting (王雲程), a researcher of Taiwan’s international status.
Wang made the comments at a forum organized by the Taiwan Association of University Professors (TAUP) that examined the territorial issues of Taiwan, Okinawa, the Diaoyutais — known as the Senkakus in Japan — and the South China Sea.
While Japan, Taiwan and China all claim sovereignty over the islands, the latter two have failed to make their cases with substantial records and facts, only citing geographical proximity and ancient books to back their claims, Wang wrote in his essay, one of 10 theses presented at the forum.
Taiwan and China usually make unilateral territorial claims without concrete evidence, with Taiwan repeatedly saying that the islands were “traditional fishery grounds of its fishermen for more than 100 years,” he said.
With regards to China, Beijing said that the Diaoyutais are in its “maritime defense zone,” which does not make sense because the US Navy’s maritime defense zone covers the entire Western Pacific, but that did not make the Pacific islands US territory by default, he said.
China’s maritime claims in the East and South China seas were also based on different standards of the continental shelf and the nine-dash line, he added.
Jan. 14, 1895, has been listed as one of the “critical dates” for Japan’s claim of sole sovereignty as its Cabinet meeting incorporated the Diaoyutais into its territory on that day, Wang said.
Japan leased the islands of Kuba-shima, known as Huangwei Yu in China, and Taisho-jima, known as Chiwei Yu in China, to the US for military purposes in 1958 as well, he added.
Academia Sinica research fellow Chen Yi-shen (陳儀深) agreed with Wang’s observations, urging the government to find substantial facts, such as the critical dates, to back up its territorial claim of the disputed islands.
Taiwan still has room for argument on the Diaoyutais, he said, because the islands were supposed to be affiliated islands of the Ryukyu Islands in the US’ post-World War II arrangement.
“However, the US said it did not hold any position on the sovereignty of those islands because it was aware of the arguments that Taiwan and China had raised,” Chen said.