Monday, May 19, 2014






File:Taiwan, East China Sea, and conflicting sovereignty claims over the Senkaku Islands.gif  Image originally by U.S.Department of Energy

  The Senkaku Islands have been administered by Japan since approximately 1865. They have never been permanently inhabited, most are little more than rocks or a few acres of rocky land without any sources of fresh water or tillable soil. Prior to 1865 the islands appear to have been what international law refers to as "terra incognita" or little known uninhabited and unclaimed land. When Japan and the United States signed their final peace treaty formally ending WWII the Senkaku were described as Japan's southernmost possession and included in the territory of Japan that the United States agreed to defend in exchange for Japan never again developing aggressive military forces. That treaty was not objected to by any nation on earth including China until recently when oil was discovered in what is Japan's exclusive economic zone waters by operation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and based on Japan's recognized ownership of the islands. As we have mentioned so often in terms of islands and other territories, effective settlement is the best test of sovereignty. In the case of uninhibited territories that appear to be uninhabitable such as tiny islands with no source of fresh water and often being submerged at storm tides the best test is "effective administration."  Japan has effectively administered these islands since 1865 providing effective coast guard patrols, enforcing fishing and environmental laws, operating licensing programs for the extraction of minerals.  No one objected until oil was discovered, then the Dragon jumped in and claimed that the Rising sun was flying over Dragon turf. China has tried to operate a parallel, effective administration by invading more with coast guard forces than naval forces and claiming that these forces are on simple routine sovereignty patrols and claiming that all of their confrontations with the Japanese coast guard have been with an "invasive presence".  China upped the anti not long ago when it established a forward air defense zone over the islands. The United States and Japan's armed forces have ignored the zone, but the airlines of both nations participate and report as required by the Dragon. China continues to press forward. Enough is enough and we had to expect this move by Japan given their constitutional prohibition against "aggressive military forces". 

 According to the JAPAN DAILY PRESS:

"Due to China’s increased assertive moves in disputed waters and territories, Japan will reportedly set up several military outposts on its remote islands, particularly near the Senkaku Islands. The move is aimed at establishing a quick answer to possible attacks and clashes as it aims to strengthen its defense within the region."

 File:Senkaku Diaoyu Tiaoyu Islands.png image:Topographic15deg_N20E120.png

Should China attack any such defensive fortifications there is no legal way around the fact that they have committed an act of war against Japan. The United States has an instant and undeniable duty at that moment to come to the defense of Japan. So far China is showing no restraint in their invasions of Japanese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Philippine waters. So far however the intrusions have been by coast guard forces, fishing vessels, and oil exploration vessels always stopping short of overt acts of war. Japan is now upping the anti by taking up defensive military positions in the general vicinity of the islands. If China doesn't exercise some common sense and stay within the bounds of her own exclusive economic zone with EEZ type activities a naval war between China, the U.S., and U.S. regional alliances is inevitable. When the new Japanese fortifications are completed, if China's behavior doesn't change naval war seems inevitable. We'll be watching this latest development most carefully and will report to you here in the daily blog posts. As you know the main stream American media is a bit preoccupied and not taking notice of the events so don;t be surprised if we seem to go from peace to war overnight some time, we've been tracking the causes here for over two years.

File:Senkaku-uotsuri.jpg aerial view of one of the islands. Photo by National Land Image Information (Color Aerial Photographs), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism".(Japan)

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1 comment:

  1. That's provocative. This move by the Japanese simply escalates the situation. You're getting us into war by forward momentum. We won't have it.

    I suggest that Japan simply return administration of the Senkakus to the US. In addition, the US should/will garrison US marines on the islands, thus stopping any consideration of an invasion by China, until sovereignty of these islands is adjudicated by an international body. At the very worst, if Japan is not accorded sovereignty, the Senkakus would be assigned to Taiwan, not the PRC.

    Before such a scenario evolves, Japan should conduct back-door negotiations with Taiwan to the effect that Japan would not contest the ruling, as long as both countries coordinate, develop and share the undersea energy resources without militarizing the islands themselves.

    How can the PRC, which considers Taiwan one of its provinces (and which bases its claims to the Senkakus on Taiwan's claims) object to Taiwan having sovereignty? Even if Taiwan was eventually absorbed by the PRC, the guarantee of anti-militarization of the islands would still be in effect.

    Let's not forget that Japan needs locally derived energy now. The Senkakus are the answer, but they cannot be developed until sovereignty is settled. Going head to head with China is a bull-headed approach; such backward nationalism ensures that the Senkakus will not be exploited for the benefit of Japan's economy for decades to come.

    Take my word for it. Save face. Return administration of the Senkakus to the US with the proviso that sovereignty be adjudicated by international law. You may lose sovereignty, but you will gain international respect and access to all the oil and gas the Japanese economy needs to compete against China in once again becoming the second largest world economy.