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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Remarks on Japanese Politician's Erroneous Comments

2012/09/30

Q: Former policy chief of the Democratic Party of Japan Seiji Maehara reportedly said on September 29 that China was "distorting facts" by accusing Japan of stealing the Diaoyu Islands. What is China's comment?

A: The remarks made by Seiji Maehara is very wrong. In Japan, there have always been some people, including certain politicians who dare not face up to history and attempt to hide from history. Therefore, it is not surprising for Maehara to make such an observation.

Historical facts clearly prove that the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands are China's inherent territory. Japan claimed to have discovered the Diaoyu Island only in 1884 while the Island had been under China's jurisdiction nearly 500 years before that. In accordance with Japan Diplomatic Documents compiled by the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Japan was fully aware of China's sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands when stealing them in 1895. In 1951, Japan, the US and a number of other countries unilaterally signed the San Francisco Treaty of Peace, placing the Nansei Islands south of the 29th parallel of North Latitude under US' trusteeship. The Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands were not included at that time. However, the US later arbitrarily expanded the scope of its trusteeship to include the Diaoyu Islands, to which the Chinese government was firmly opposed. In 1971, the US and Japan signed the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, which "returned" to Japan the Ryukyu Islands and the Diaoyu Islands, rousing strong opposition from the Chinese government and people. The US government was obliged to clarify its position on the issue concerning the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands. It stated that it was only a handover of administrative rights over those islands to Japan, which can in no way prejudice any underlying claims.

During the negotiations on the normalization of China-Japan relations in 1972 and on signing the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1978, there was also voice in Japan which vociferously denied the sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyu Islands. However, both the historical archives and the news reports at that time clearly show that the sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyu Islands does exist, and leaders of the two countries reached the understanding and consensus of "leaving the issue of the Diaoyu Islands to be resolved later."

On September 10 this year, the Japanese government flagrantly made the wrong decision to "purchase" the Diaoyu Islands, which grossly violated China's territorial sovereignty, sparked the whole Chinese nation's outrage and severely damaged China-Japan relations. China strongly urges the Japanese side to face squarely the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands, wake up to the gravity of the current situation, immediately take measures to correct mistakes and join China to settle the dispute through negotiation and dialogue.

China always attaches great importance to the development of China-Japan relations. Over the past 40 years since the normalization of diplomatic ties, China and Japan have made remarkable progress in exchanges and cooperation in all fields, delivering enormous benefits to the two countries and two peoples. We should all the more cherish this hard-won result. We hope that people with vision in Japan will take active actions in the interest of overall bilateral relations and overcome the current difficulties so as to bring bilateral relations back to the track of normal development.

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