Sovereign Rights and Territorial Space in Sino-Japanese Relations: Irredentism and the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands
In September 1996, members of the right-wing Japan Youth Federation repaired a lighthouse on one of the Diaoyu (J. Senkaku) Islands, a small group of uninhabited islets north of Taiwan in the Liuqiu (J. Ryukyu) chain, known today as Okinawa. For months, outraged ethnic Chinese in Hong Kong and Taiwan protested Japan’s presence in the islands, and violent confrontations between protesters and the Japanese Marine Self-Defense Force resulted. Tension over these incidents has subsided since 1996, but the sovereignty of the islands remains a concern for both China and Japan. The long and complex history of relations between the two countries has made the problem difficult to resolve. This volatile situation has been further complicated by the involvement of other countries, including the U.S. Although the Diaoyu/Senkaku matter may be characterized as a simple territorial dispute between two nations, it exposes complicated geopolitical relations among Japan, China, Taiwan, and the U.S. in the Asia-Pacific region.
Sovereign Rights and Territorial Space in Sino-Japanese Relations is an investigation of the highly topical issues involved in the Diaoyu/Senkaku confrontation. It begins by addressing the issue of the historical development of the dispute: To whom do the islands belong? When did China and Japan become involved? Does historical evidence prove who has sovereignty over the islands? How has irredentism (the claim to territory based on one or another historical “right”) become a major state policy in both countries? Other issues center on Chinese views of sovereignty and methods of delimiting territorial boundaries during the Ming and Qing periods, the Chinese concept of hegemony, and the history behind the deep mistrust that permeates Sino-Japanese relations. Finally, the author discloses the interwoven relationship between geography and history in East Asia. Chinese and Japanese geographers have for centuries been engaged in historical analyses of the islands. Their work, which has been used in the development of national security and diplomatic policies, is an important resource and one that this book makes available to Western scholars for the first time. In addition to his careful examination of these and other sources, Suganuma utilizes theoretical writings on geographical irredentism to expose the biases of recent work on the Diaoyu/Senkaku dispute.
This volume is the fullest scholarly treatment that the contested issue of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands has received to date in any language. It contains much of interest for historians of modern China and Japan as well as for political scientists looking for new insights into international relations and Sino-Japanese interactions. No one who reads it will look at sovereignty in the same way again.
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