Senkaku Islands Dispute

Territorial disputes among countries has been one of the leading source  of conflicts at the internationals arena for instance as seen in the Senkaku islands which has sparked confrontation between China and Japan which each state trying to prove that it has exclusive  right to exercise sovereignty over these islands. This dispute between these two countries is likely to limit cooperation between these two countries and even the US which is obliged to help Japan to defend its territories following the 1960 alliance treaty. Although china presents strong historical evidence that it has a right over sovereignty over this islands, it fails to support this by any evidence that it has peaceful occupied and exercised continuous authority over these islands which is one of the key prerequisite required for any nation to claim sovereignty over an uninhabited island. Legal experts have considered this to be a major blow on China’s claims over ownership of these islands. On the other hand Japan has produced a lot of evidence to support the fact that it indeed peaceful occupied and exercised continuous authority over Senkaku islands (Wei-chin, 2007).

The two sides are making contradicting claims over the ownership of these islands. For instance Japan claims that in 1885 they found the land not occupied and terra nullius which means empty land. They went ahead and incorporated these islands as part of its territory in 1895 after carrying out an official government survey, something they say China never contested. China on the other hand says that they discovered these islands under the Ming dynasty and it was only compelled to surrender it Japan together with Taiwan following the Shimonoseki treaty that was signed in 1895 after China had been defeated in Sino-Japan war. Discussed in this paper is a detailed historical account on how this dispute came into place. Moreover, this paper tries to look into details on this issue regarding claims of both countries on sovereignty of these islands. This paper also tries to bring into light the international laws governing this kind of disputes. It also tries to look the claims by each country from a legal perspective (Wei-chin, 2007)       

History of the dispute

This dispute between Japan and China over Senkaku islands is based on claims that date back to 500 years and also prospects that these islands are likely to be potential sources of offshore oil and gas. The dispute between Japan and China on Senkaku Islands is a world level maritime dispute with both countries trying to justify that they are the rightful owners of the islands. These islands are currently under the control of Japan. Diaoyu (Chinese name for Senkaku islands) are claimed to be among the islands that were used as courts during the reign of Ry%u016Bky%u016B kingdom in welcoming investiture missions from china. These islands formed one maritime connection in the transportation system for tributary relation with the Qing court.  Documents from china during the sixth century have even confirmed the mention of Diaoyu or Senkaku islands. Unfortunately these records are not substantial to justify China’s claim on the islands.  It is said that in 1879 after Japan had claimed sovereignty over Okinawa Island, the country started extending new interests to islands that were not inhabited in the northern part of Yonagunijima this included islands such as Uotsurijima, Kubasaki and Kumeakajima. During 1885 Japan moved forward to claim these islands as part of its territory and wanted to include them in the Okinawa prefecture. It is during this time that China also started developing interest on this in habited islands  and even started assigning them official names for instance the `Diaoyu islands`. China started making claims that these islands were part of its territory (Toshio, 2001).

During the year 1890 and 1893 Japan placed further claims on the control of these islands. Consequently the cabinet passed a resolution in 1895 to claim sovereignty over Kubajima and Uotsurijima islands. This happened at a time when Japan was trying to assert itself in wars on maritime superiority and also during this time the country was enjoying a number of victories in the Sino-Japan war. Japan had resolved to declare these Islands as part of its territory after hesitating for several decades because at this point they did not worry about any reaction from China which at that time was at the verge of losing war. Japan had made a demand that after the conclusion of the war Taiwan should be surrendered to Japan (Toshio, 2001).

In 1900 Japan moved ahead to assign new names to the islands. Following a survey that was carried out by Okinawa normal school, it was suggested that the islands be named ‘Sinkaku islands’ a name that was eventually adopted up to date. When Japan was defeated in the world war two, following the orders of the supreme commander of the allied powers, Okinawa was cut off from Japan a process that naturally included Senkaku islands. Also during this time Taiwan was ceded back to China and was incorporated back as part of its national territory. No records have indicated that the Senkaku were to be incorporated as Chinese territory. Records indicate that only Taiwan was returned back to China but Senkaku Islands remained under the control of the American military government which at that time was ruling Okinawa (Toshio, 2001).

Following the Chinese revolution that proclaimed the republic of china, Taiwan was expelled as part of the Chinese main land and became the home of the nationalists. In the year 1951 the Japanese government entered into a peace treaty with Taiwan but the Senkaku islands did not appear in any part of the agreements. Considering the fact that these Islands were being used by the US military, the Taiwan government was reluctant to register complaints about the ownership of these islands whose future was uncertain.

In 1970 the people’s daily in China declared that just like Taiwan, the Diaoyu islands (Senkaku islands) have always been part of Chinese territory since ancient times; this happened just before the establishment of diplomatic ties between Japan and the peoples’ Republic of China.  A year later (1971), this dispute moved to the next level when the ministry of foreign affairs of the People’s Republic of China government released a statement that claimed that Diaoyu islands and other islands within the region have historically been Chinese territory.  This issue was complicated further because Senkaku Islands never formed any part of the negotiations during the establishment of diplomatic ties between Japanese government and the people’s republic of china government (Thomas, 2003).

During the signing of the peace and friendship treaty in 1978, the Japanese and People’s Republic of China governments agreed not to bring up the issue of Senkaku islands as it will jeopardize normalization of diplomatic ties that both sides had started enjoying. Both sides resolved to put aside the issue of this disputed islands for the time being (Thomas, 2003).

Why the dispute rose again

Following history of Senkaku islands it becomes clear that Japan has all along exercised administrative power over these islands.  Despite this, experts think that the question as to which country has a right to claim territorial sovereignty stand to be an open question.  Some experts think that China was willing to overlook and remain silent this dispute, but this only lasted for a short period of time.  In the recent years this dispute has sparked again something that some researchers think might have been attributed to increased national power of the Chinese government and also the craving to have control over ocean resources which in the recent years have gained a lot of importance.  According to a survey that was sponsored by the United Nations concluded that these islands are likely to become regions with the most prolific gas and oils reserves in the world because of the continental shelf of organic matter deposited in this region by yellow and Yangste Rivers. Some scholars think that these optimistic results from this survey are one of the major factors that are rekindling the dispute (Tanaka, 2010).     

Competing claims over the Sinkaku islands

Both China and Japan have presented competing claims and even with evidence to consolidate their claims. Each side is trying to prove that it deserves sovereignty over these islands. Although both sides offer contradicting claims, one fact that remains undisputed by the two conflicting sides is that; Japan peaceful exercised control over these islands from 1895 to the beginning of the Second World War.  The following are claims that have been presented by both countries over the disputed islands (Thomas, 2003).

Claims by china

In asserting that are the rightful owner of the islands, China has argued that its acts of prior discovery, ownership and use of the land are substantial pieces of evidence that shows these islands have always been their territory.  China argues that Japan had always acknowledged their claim on the islands and because of that they think Japan should not declare that it is the legal owner of the islands. China has also claimed that following the World War II, Japan had surrendered the islands to the Chinese Government (Thomas, 2003).

To support their claim that it was the one that first discovered and used the islands; China has provoked historical evidence which indicate that in 1372 these islands were used as navigational aids by Chinese imperial envoys travelling to Ryukyu Islands to receive Chinese Okinawan vassal. China has further supported this claim by saying that they used these islands as a source shi Kong yony, which is a rare medicinal plant and that is found in plenty on these islands.

To support their claims that Japan acknowledged both explicitly and implicitly that Sinkaku islands is a Chinese territory, China has said that Japan had accepted that Senkaku islands is a Chinese territory in the late 19th century. China goes ahead to support this  by using a map that was drawn by Japan in 1785 in which they used the same color for Senkaku islands and China and then used a different color to represent the Okinawan kingdom. They further argue that the Japanese official map that was completed in 1877 did not include Senkaku islands as part of its territory.  It is during the late 1890s when Japan started having interest in these islands. Consequently following a petition from the Japanese interior minister national markers were erected on these islands by Okinawan prefecture. The foreign affair minister was against this move; for fear that it would attract China’s attention consequently erecting markers on these islands was postponed. After Japan emerged victorious in the Sino-Japanese war against China, the Japanese cabinet passed resolutions which saw national markers erected on these islands.  Also during this time China was forced by Japan to sign an agreement (Shimonoseki treaty) which saw china surrender Taiwan to Japan and all islands appertaining to. China has used this phrase ``appertaining to`` to argue that these islands included Senkaku islands. Therefore in their opinion these islands are its territory (Tanaka, 2010).     

Based on the evidence from historical records, Chinese government argue that upon discovery of these islands in the year 1403 it was administered as part of Taiwan and that they have used these islands for several centuries as fishing grounds by Chinese fishermen and also as an operational base long before Japan claimed to have discovered them. This claim has been rebuffed by the Japanese government.

China has also used an historical event which took place in 1931 when Japan was still occupying Taiwan to assert that they are the rightful owners of Senkaku islands. During this time there was a dispute between Okinawan prefecture and Tanapei over the control of Senkaku islands in which the Tokyo high court ruled in favor of Tanapei and further asserted that these islands historically are a territory of Taiwan. Therefore China argues that Japan in its official capacity acknowledged that these islands were part of Taiwan (Tanaka, 2010).     

China also argues that the Japanese government was legally bound following the conclusion of the Second World War to surrender Taiwan and Senkaku islands.  Moreover China asserts that the Sino-Japan treaty that was signed in 1952 required Japan to surrender back all territories that had been conquered from China which it says included Taiwan and Senkaku islands.  Therefore    based on this treaty China says that Japan surrendered the Senkaku islands following the conclusion of the Second World War II. To support their claim that the ownership of these islands was reverted back to it, China says that during the time of cold way when the US used these Islands for military activities, they applied for permission to the Taiwan government and not the Japanese government. Following these facts China claims that it is the legal owner of the Senkaku islands (Tanaka, 2010).     

Claims by Japan

On the other hand Japan has always claimed it is the legal owner of Senkaku islands. Japan also claims that these islands are part of its territory because they have continuously been under its administration for over a century. Japan also thinks that China accepted Japan’s sovereignty over Senkaku islands (Tanaka, 2010).     

To justify its claims, Japan has asserted it possessed Senkaku islands in   1895 following the government official surveys on the islands that were carried out in1887 and 1892. They say that during these surveys they found these islands not inhabited and without any sign or trace of Chinese presence.  Based on these findings the Japanese government passed cabinet resolutions in 1895 to erect national markers on Senkaku islands and were integrated as part of Japanese territory as free territory as prescribed by international laws during that time. From that period Senkaku islands have always been counted as central part of Nansei islands all which are under the territory of the Japanese government (Suganuma, 2000). 

Japan further says after it had possessed the islands and incorporated them into its territory they started exercising sovereignty over the islands.  Japan supports this claim by pointing a period in history when it leased the island to Tatsuhiro Koga in 1896 who used them to put up transportation facilities on these islands. Koga family continued using the land until the Second World War when the family abandoned the business. History indicates that the American civil administration paid rent to Koga family for occasional use these islands (Suganuma, 2000).   

To advance its claim that it has all along exercised sovereignty over the islands both before and during the Second World War, Japan has evoked evidence such as integration of Senkaku islands into its local government. It has also pointed on various surveys that were conducted by the Japanese government and investigations that were carried out by the Japanese police following a plane crash on the islands. They further support their claims of sovereignty over the islands by showing various buildings that were built on the islands by the Japanese government including a weather station.  When the US returned the Senkaku islands, the Japanese government continued with administration of these islands as part of its territory.    

Also contrary to the perception held by china, Japan thinks that Senkaku islands is not part of Taiwan neither is it one of its appertaining islands that were surrendered by China  during the signing of the Shimonoseki treaty in 1895.  Further evidence supporting the claim that Japan had exercised sovereignty over Senkaku islands is seen when Japan points the fact that it has all along used the islands for business purposes, put up a heliport and a lighthouse and even had its defense forces guarding the islands.  Japan argues that China had accepted the fact that Japan has exclusive right over sovereignty of the islands because China had not claimed ownership over the islands for more than seventy years and it only did so during the late 1960s following a survey conducted by the United Nations that suggested there was high possibility that these islands could have rich deposits of oil and gases. Japan further argue that although China was a victorious ally following the second world war, it had left the islands under the administration of the US and had no taken any attempt to take control over the islands  (Suganuma, 2000).   

International law governing disputes over islands dispute

The laws governing the disputes over islands states the act of discovering an island does not automatically give the discoverer the right of ownership. Discovery alone give what is called inchoate title. Therefore it is required that for a country to be said to be the rightful owner of an island it must have demonstrated actual sovereignty over the land. The law states that even if a state has inchoate title it can lose sovereignty if another state is occupying and exercising authority over the land in question.  Although to acquire a title over a land that is not inhabited will call for exertion of less authority by a state than when the land is inhabited, it is required that another state with competing sovereign over the same piece of land to raise timely protest  otherwise it risks losing the title completely.

Both sides  especially China have relied  heavily on historical evidence to justify their claims but unfortunately the law states that peacefully occupancy and exercise of authority over a land in dispute cannot be challenged any amount of documentary or historical evidence (Prescott, 2002). 

Looking this dispute from this legal perspective even complicate the issue as no rightful owner clearly comes out.  The discovery of the islands in 1895 by Japan cannot be regarded as terra nullius (free territory) because China had age-old inchoate claim over these islands because their historical records claim that they had used the land for navigational purposes and as a source a medicinal plant that was only found on the land.  It had even exercised some sovereignty over the land by renting it to one of its citizens. But the international law states that a state can lose the inchoate title if another state peaceful occupies and exercises authority over the disputed land. Experts claim that the inchoate claimed by China cannot materialize into an actual title because there is no evidence that they had peaceful occupied and displayed continuous authority over the disputed islands.  China’s claim over the islands further loses legal strength because it failed to safeguard its claims over the land against another sovereign by letting Japan to peacefully occupy and exercise authority over the islands. For instance it let Japan to officially conduct surveys over the islands and to go ahead and erect national markers over the island and incorporating the Senkaku islands as part of its territory. China just kept quiet and never protested against any of these actions. Regarding to this, scholars argue that it is true that China peaceful used this islands but it never exercised continuous authority over the islands (Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea, 2000).

On the other hand China can make a strong legal argument by saying that Senkaku islands together with Taiwan were seized from them by Japan during the signing of Shimonoseki treaty following their defeat in Sino-Japan war.  They have supported this by the declaration of the Tokyo high court in 1931 that ruled Senkaku islands were appurtenant islands of Taiwan. China therefore argues that Japan should have surrendered these islands back together with Taiwan following the conclusion of the Second World War as declared by the Cairo agreement and also the 1951 peace treaty of San Francisco.  Japan can challenge this legally by saying that these island became part of its territory  even before the signing of the Shimonoseki peace treaty this can be supported by its activities on the island in 1845 four months before the signing of this treaty. These islands peacefully remained as part of Japanese sovereign territory between 1895 and 1945. Something that scholars argue can be either because Japan had incorporated these islands as part of its territory or because China had surrendered these islands to Japan following agreements after the Sino-Japan war.  Research has not found any evidence that China protested in any way to Japanese government occupancy and exercise of authority over this island during this period (Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea, 2000).

Analyzing this dispute from the perspective of law becomes even more intricate because china argue that these islands were part of its territory that was seized from them following  conclusion of the Sino-Japanese war and were supposed to be surrendered back after the second world war.  Japan on the other hand argues that it incorporated the Senkaku islands into islands before the Shimonoseki treaty and was not in any way subject to treaty signed after the Second World War that required Japan to return everything that it had seized from china.  Legal claims of ownership of these islands by China further get clouded after the Second World War. This is because China never made any attempt to claim ownership of these islands from Japan following the conclusion of the second world war, it only did so after it was discovered that these islands are likely to be  rich sources of exploitable hydrocarbons and during this period China never peaceful exercised continuous over these islands. China has defended itself against this by saying that they did not exercise continuous authority over the island because the US had requested to use them for military purposes during the cold war. Japan gets on the better side of this argument because following the second world Japan together with the US jointly administered and guarded the Senkaku islands (Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea, 2000).

Although the argument by China that these islands were surrendered back by Japan after the conclusion of the second world legally stands, several question also arises because there is no any evidence that China demonstrated any act of sovereignty over these islands for more than 25 years after the end of the world war and never protested against Japan actions of exercising sovereignty over the islands. Following this, legal experts think that if it is declared that these islands is a territory of China then the law would have contradicted itself by ignoring the fact that Japan had peacefully occupied and exercised sovereignty over these islands since 1895 and even after the second war (Cheng, 2003).

The current legal status of Senkaku islands

Presently Japan continues to exercise sovereignty over the islands and has continuously been guarding and exercising authority over the islands and their surrounding exclusive economic zone (EEZ). China continues to claim that the Senkaku islands are part of its territory which Japan should surrender back.  Both China and Japan claim that they are the rightful owners of the land with each side producing extensive evidence to back its side and no side is willing to compromise its stand on the dispute. Under the present international laws, a state gets sovereignty over an uninhabited island if it has occupied the island and exercised continuous authority which only Japan did. Japan’s legal argument over ownership of these islands seems to be entirely based on this fact. On the other hand China seems to have more historical evidence that tries to justify that Senkaku islands is indeed their territory but china legally gets a blow on this issue because they never protested in time over Japan’s occupancy and exercise of authority over these islands (Tanaka, 2010).     

Unanswered questions regarding the Senkaku islands dispute

International laws governing land disputes especially island have failed to clearly define the exclusive owner of Senkaku Islands. These laws instead have left many questions unanswered. For instance, how claims of sovereignty that dates back to 14th century can be judged by norms that were put in place in Europe centuries later.  The law also fails to precisely define the nature and discovery for islands that are not inhabited. Legal experts also argue that solving this dispute is intricate because the international laws have failed to define clearly the critical date or time in period when this dispute started. This is fundamental in solving any dispute.  Also the unanswered question is whether the Senkaku islands were part of Taiwan or part of Okinawa before 1895. An answer to this question can be very vital in finding a resolution to this dispute. Also this dispute is surrounded by several ambiguous and contradicting treaties signed at different periods which scholars claim are very difficult to precisely interpret (Cheng, 2003).

 Rising Potential over the dispute

China is currently building a navy that is capable to put it in a position to effectively operate in Asia and to ensure that it maritime interests are met. This includes their claimed sovereignty of the Senkaku islands. Scholars think that if this conflict is not peacefully resolved it is more likely instigate a military confrontation between the two nations which will have far reaching consequences. Experts think that the two countries can avoid this possible eventuality by avoiding any violent resolution over this dispute.

Some experts think that due to fast growth of economy in China that is accompanied by increased demand for energy and given that this islands have been indicated as potential sources of oil and gas, this century old dispute is going to be rekindled more than ever and will adversely hurt the bilateral trade that the two countries are enjoying (Tanaka, 2010).     

Some scholars have argued that this dispute is more likely to lead into adjustment of alliances in north east of Asia. For instance they say that Korea and Taiwan are more likely to side with China with the US siding with Japan. They argue that the US might come in to defend Japan which is regarded as its staunch ally in this region and also to make sure that the interests of the western oil companies are safeguarded (Tanaka, 2010).       

Management of the Senkaku dispute

A solution to Senkaku islands dispute still remains puzzle that not even the international laws governing territorial disputes can solve. But both sides have been able to avoid hostile situations and unnecessary tensions that might provoke the use of force.  Scholars suggest that elements of dispute management must be stressed because they have received little attention in analysis of this dispute. Some experts say the use of force by China to settle this disputed may have been prevented by US which is obliged following a treaty that was signed in 1960 to protect Japanese territory which the  US, although reluctantly asserted that includes the Senkaku islands .  Scholars argue that cautious management of this dispute is indispensable in ensuring that tensions arising from the conflict do not lead into a possible military confrontation which can be very disastrous.  Scholars further argue that the two countries have to some degree achieved success in managing this dispute by subduing major confrontations. Some frictions over these islands have been caused by demonstrations by citizens in support of sovereignty claims by their respective countries something that most scholars argue can instigate the two countries to resort to military confrontation to satisfy their citizens.  For instance during the 1990s temperatures over this dispute went high when activists from Taiwan, Japan and china converged on these islands with each group trying to justify that their country is the one that has authority to exercise sovereignty over these islands.  During this period various activists from Japan visited these islands to maintain a lighthouse that was put up by their government in 1978. These move provoked individuals from Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China sought to move to these islands to support claims by China.  These activists from china in 2004 successful landed on these islands to represent claims by China (Curtisand Wang, 2010). 

From 2002 the Japanese government has taken a number of steps to ensure that this dispute does not result in a conflict. For instance the government has taken several steps to take control over these islands and to ensure that these islands are kept out of bound from its citizens so as to avoid any response from the patriot groups from China who may decide to land on the islands in protest. The government has done these by leasing some of the disputed islands that were outside the government control thus making sure that all the disputed islands are directly placed under the control of the Japanese government. This move ensured that the government being the leaseholder can prevent the sale of these islands to any activist group who may want to use the islands for political reasons and also to prevent activists from all sides from making landings on the islands (Richard, 2010).

Following successful landing of activists from China in 2004, the government of Japan moved in to put up two guard stations near these islands to prevent individuals from landing on these islands in the future. Also in 2005, Japan made a move to consolidate its control over these islands by announcing that the government had assumed the control of a lighthouse that had been built and maintained by the Japanese youth league.  These actions did not go well as they provoked protest from Beijing and Taipei because they thought that Japan was trying to exert unilateral sovereignty and consolidate its control over these disputed islands.   Some scholars argue that Japan has made steps in ensuring that this dispute does not get out of hand for instance by ensuring activists do not spark the tensions further.  According to news from the public resources it has been reported that Japanese activists have never made a successful visit to the islands since 2003. This move has not been able to prevent activists from China and Taiwan from making attempts to land on these islands.  Despite this, the Japanese has been able to prevent ships carrying the activists from landing on the islands using the coast guard vessels that they have deployed around the surrounding waters (Hakuki, 2010).

On the other hand the Chinese government has also made steps to ensure that this dispute does not escalate into a possible military confrontation. The Chinese government has made several steps to ensure that activities of its citizens over these disputed islands are restricted.  For instance, from 1990s there has not been reported any case where activists from the Chinese mainland have attempted to land on the island and it is only during 2004 when a federation defending the Diaoyu (Senkaku) islands made a journey to the islands but were stopped  and detained by Japanese coast guard and were later deported back to china.  Since this incident China has put in place strict measures that have ensured that further landings by Chinese citizens on these islands do not happen again in future.   The Chinese government has even gone ahead to abolish any maritime excursion on these islands.  For instance the members of the federation defending Senkaku (Diaoyu) islands were prevented by local officials in Fujian from making use of the Chinese fishing   Ships for non-commercial purposes such as travelling to these disputed islands.  To demonstrate that they did not want the dispute to escalate into a conflict, the Chinese government made a raid on the offices of the federation defending the Diaoyu islands in Beijing. This followed after several protests from Japan in 2005.  This message was further emphasized by China in 2007 when four members of the federation who entered Japanese territorial waters in their attempt to gain access to the islands were put under house arrest on their return back to China (Peter, 2009).

Another move by China to ensure that this dispute over the islands is contained is seen by its move to a void mobilization of the public around this dispute. China has also managed to maintain a low tone over this issue for instance it seldom appears in the official news papers. Studies also show that few articles in China over this issue have been published since 1987 and in fact for some years there was not even a single article published referring to this dispute.  According to research carried out on individual articles published in China regarding this dispute, it was found out that article publication was only instigated by events that were connected to this dispute for instance the attempts by the activist to make landings on these islands and also the administrative actions by Japan over this islands. Studies indicates that although China has permitted demonstration over this dispute during periods of high tension for instance during 1990 and during 1996, it has always made sure that such civil actions are very limited. This can even be seen during the anti-Japan demonstrations that took place in major cities in China, during which the Senkaku dispute played a very minor role.  Studies indicate that during these demonstrations there was not even a single banner or poster that was referring to the dispute of Senkaku islands (Victor, 2009).  

Also Japan has made several moves that have cooled tensions over these islands.  Although Japan has been on the upper hand in administering these islands, it has always been cautious not to provoke China into a conflict by limiting developments on these islands.For instance Japan has avoided putting up any military installation a move that scholars view can be very provocative and can make China resort into a military confrontation because it will send a message to China that Japan exercises exclusive sovereignty over the islands something that scholars say can have disastrous consequences. Some experts have argued that if Japan puts in  place military installation on this islands, it will be advancing its sovereignty claims over these disputed islands a move that will make China a appear as a weak challenger consequently it will high likely resort to use military force (Pan, 2009).   Japan’s act of ensuring that it is putting limited use of these islands has played an indispensable role in easing these tensions because China view that although Japan has an upper hand in administering the island, this has not constituted to complete sovereignty over the island (Pan, 2009). 

This dispute over these islands still stands fragile and calls for both sides to be very cautious in the process of asserting their claim so as to avoid situations that can lead to a conflict as seen in 2008 when a Chinese government vessel landed on territorial waters of these disputed islands, although China defended this move by arguing that they too had sovereignty claims over these islands, Japan did not take this lightly.  They saw this move as a provocative as this was the first time a Chinese government vessel and not a civilian one had landed near these disputed islands. The following year Japan responded to this move by saying that they were planning to put in place a more capable coast guard vessel with a helicopter for patrolling territorial waters around these islands (Lee and Schofield, 2010). 

Resolving the dispute

This dispute of Senkaku Islands is intricate and needs to be handled with a lot of caution. This is because each country is trying to justify its side of the story with insufficient evidence so as to assert territorial sovereignty over the island. If it is not solved amicably, the repercussions can be far reaching for both sides. Experts suggest that each side should be ready to concede ground and thoroughly look into their respective claims.  In order to solve the dispute both sides should cease from claiming exclusive territorial rights over these islands. Researchers suggest that both sides should be willing to engage in an intensive and extensive discussion and decide how best they ate going to employ historical developments as a remedy and develop resolutions together that will help in putting to end the current dispute (Lee and Schofield, 2010). 


The Senkaku islands dispute still stands out as one of the intricate conflict that even the international laws have failed to solve. China and Japan continue give contradicting claims with each country trying to support its claims over the islands. China has provided historical evidence to support its claims that it was the first to discover the islands in 1403. Japan on the other hand has claimed that it found the islands unoccupied and later incorporated them as part of its territory in 1895. Japan`s sovereignty claim is supported by the fact that it had peaceful occupied and exercised authority over the islands since 1895.

Both countries continue to give competing claims over the islands, something that has made it difficult to precisely tell the real owner of the islands. Scholars have  argued that legally Japan has an upper hand over sovereignty of these islands based on the fact that it has peaceful exercised continuous authority over them.

Although the dispute has not been solved, both countries have managed to ensure that the issue does not lead into a conflict. To solve this dispute both countries need to cede grounds and critically look at their respective claims and decide on the best way they are going to employ historical developments surrounding this dispute so that they draw resolutions that both sides are comfortable with. 

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