Saturday, September 29, 2012

Japan's Strange Ally

Let me see if I have this straight.

After World War II, the United States occupies all of Japan.

In 1952, it ends the Occupation of the main islands but continues to occupy the Ogasawara Islands (the Bonin Islands, according to the Unites States Geological Survey) and the Okinawan Islands, including, at the time, the Senkaku Islands (the Senkaku-shoto, according to the U.S. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency) -- the last of which the U.S. Air Force and Navy use for bombing practice.

In 1968, the U.S. returns the Ogasawaras to Japan.

In 1972, the U.S. returns the Okinawan Islands, including the Senkakus, to Japan.

Now in 2012, the United States government says that it takes no sides on issue of sovereignty over the Senkakus.

Uh...yes do...


wataru said...

I think the Chinese response to this would be, The Senkakus were never Japan's legitimate property to begin with and therefore the US had no business "returning" them to Japan.

MTC said...

Wataru -

Considering that Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi declared from the podium at the UN General Assembly that the Senkakus were stolen from China, the PRC government is most definitely saying, "The Senkakus were never Japan's legitimate property to begin with..."

My puzzlement is over the United States' impossible stance as regards sovereignty. For the U.S. at least, the return of Okinawa cleared all the hurdles regarding the postwar order: Cairo, Potsdam, San Francisco, et al. If the U.S. occupied X, then returned X, ipso facto X is a part of Japan.

Hoofin said...

One way to look at this is: the US no position in 1972, because it didn't recognize China (so-called Red China).

In 1979, the US recognized China.

When the US leaves an occupied territory (as it did Iraq a few years ago), does it later "return" the territory, or does it "de-occupy" from the territory? If so, US de-occupation allowed Japan to reassert its claims versus China. But it did not mean that the US recognized an unassailable claim by Japan.

Troy said...

"ipso facto" is not actually part of international law.

well it is, but China is perfectly free to bring more facts into the picture should it choose to do so.

Japan's lucky the Chinese didn't take Kyushu in reparations for the suffering inflcted upon it 1932-1945.

That's the deal Germany got, and Germany wasn't half the badguy Japan was in that period.

That Japan has successfully memory-holed all this is really quite something.

Bryce said...

So, the United States occupied a part of China, during which time both Beijing and Taipei issued maps which indicated that occupied territory as belonging to Japan, while refraining from making any claims of their own.

Of course it is Chinese territory. How can you not see that?

MTC said...

Hoofin' -

I would have to review the documents on the Okinawa reversion. However, I think the U.S. understanding was that it was returning sovereignty over the islands to Japan, not de-occupying them.

MTC said...

Troy -

Was the Soviet Union's seizure of Koenigsberg/Kaliningrad justified as reparations? Otherwise, I am not sure what you mean.

MTC said...

Bryce -

I read your comment before my morning cup of coffee -- and thought that you had lost your mind.

Troy said...

MTC, I was thinking of the German cession of Upper Silesia, Pomerania, and E Prussia to Poland, actually.

Stalin was in the position to dictate the peace, while China was not.

What this dispute is really about is the resource claims, yes?

How many billions of damage did Japan do to China?

How much compensation were they made to repay?

I understand the politics of this issue is complex for both sides.

But on the abstract moral plane, the right thing for the Japanese to collectively do is obvious to me.

Time for Japan to walk their peace-loving talk.

MTC said...

Troy -

1) The cession of those territories to Poland was not accomplished in the context of war reparations -- but in terms of Poland's security and domination of Eastern Europe by the armies of the Soviet Union.

2) Despite the many flaws of international law, a work in progress, to chuck it in favor of a balancing of rights with wrongs opens the door for chaos.

As for the issue of reparations for the war, the official Chinese government position as per the 1972 Joint Communique is:

"5. The Government of the People's Republic of China declares that in the interest of the friendship between the Chinese and the Japanese peoples, it renounces its demand for war reparation from Japan."

Philippe said...

Troy (8:47am),
What this dispute is really about is the resource claims, yes?
Yes, and no… Or, not only. Look at the maps. In front of China's Pacific coast there is that whole bunch of islands (Japan, Taiwan, both nominally at least US allies, Philippines,…) that limits China's access to the open ocean. If they 'own' or 'control' some of those, they have direct access (territorial waters), and limit the control that the 'other' can have. Ditto, Russia. I'm surprised that point isn't made more often.

(and yay, for once I can read the captcha easily)

MTC said...

Philippe -

Having control of the Kuriles/Northern Territories did not and does not do diddly squat for Russia's access to the Pacific. Every sub leaving Vladivostok got to test the Japan/ U.S. hydrophones in the Soya, Tsugaru and Tsushima Straits.

As for those annoying peoples inhabiting what are China's Pacific access islands, they have been there and will always be there...and thanks to the rise of the PRC are now bound more tightly to the U.S. than ever before.

Then there is the further, broader issue, the "Mr. White, what the hell are you talking about?" problem: once China has unrestricted access to the Eastern Pacific, what does it hope to "do" with that?