China, Japan spar over small islands

Members of a Guard of Honor carry the Chinese and Japanese flags during a ceremony in Tokyo, Japan.


STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Relations between China and Japan are at
their lowest level in years, less than a month after China surpassed Japan to become the world's second biggest economy. China's threatened "strong countermeasures" if Japan doesn't release a Chinese boat captain detained by the Japanese nearly two weeks ago for sailing near a chain of islands in the East China Sea. Both nations lay claim to the islands. What's the big fuss?

Here's Marketplace's China Bureau Chief Rob Schmitz.

ROB SCHMITZ: The islands at the center of this fight are too remote to live on, so why all the heat between China and Japan over who owns them? The flame is being fueled by what's underneath them, says China Political Scientist Zhou Yong Shen.

ZHOU YONG SHEN: If Japan gains ownership of these islands, it means a great deal of natural gas will suddenly fall into Japan's possession. This is the heart of the problem.

Ranked by GDP, world economy number three, Japan, has virtually no reserves of natural gas -- yet relies on that resource for 14 percent of its total energy consumption. It has to import all of it. World economy number two -- that would be China -- has domestic reserves, but is also a net importer of natural gas, and is on track to double its consumption within five years. These islands would be a nice addition to either country. Oh yeah, I almost forgot Taiwan. It lays claims to the islands, too. But with its economy ranked at number 25, it's having a harder time getting a word in.

In Shanghai, I'm Rob Schmitz for Marketplace.

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Rob Schmitz is Marketplace’s China correspondent in Shanghai.
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Diaoyu Islands
The term "Diao Yu Tai" in Chinese means "Fishing Platform". The earliest historical records of the islands are Chinese navigation records from 1403, and references to Diaoyu Islands occur in Chinese logs and Chinese maps of the Liu Chiu chain from that time. For several centuries, the Diaoyu Islands have been administered as one part of China and have always been used exclusively by Chinese fishermen as an base for fishing, both before and after World War II. (For more detail, see Prof. Kiyoshi Inoue's paper in 1972 "Diaoyu Islands and other islands are Chinese Territory")
On a map published by Japan between 1783 and 1785, the Diaoyu Islands were marked as within China's borderlines.
A recently discovered book written during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912)called "Record of Ocean Nation" has again proved the islands have always been part of China.
Kiyoshi Inoue, a renowned Japanese historian, confirmed in his book titled "The Diaoyu Islands and Its Adjacent Islands" that historical facts as early as the 16th century attest, the Diaoyu, in the East China Sea between China and Japan, have been an intrinsic part of China's territory.
In 1874, Japan took Liu Chiu Islands (Okinawa) from China by force when Chinese Ching Dynasty was involved in several wars with other foreign countries. However, the Diaoyu Islands still remained under the administration of China. After being defeated by Japan in the Sino-Japan War, China ceded Taiwan to Japan under the Shimonoseki Treaty. As a part of Taiwan, the Diaoyutai Islands belonged to Japan at that time.

Taiwan was returned to China at the end of World War II in 1945 based upon the 1943 agreement of the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations. The Japanese government accepted the terms that stated in these documents"...that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa, the Pescadores, shall be restored to China.

So, not only Diaoyu Islands belong to China, but also Liu Chiu Islands (Okinawa). The Chinese owner shall get those islands back.

Yes, it is, but they are also known as the Diaoyu Islands in China

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