Okinawa Dragged Into China-Japan Island Battle
Newspaper calls for 'reconsideration' of Ryukyu islands' ownership
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2013 9:49 AM CDT
A US Marines' helicopter sits as a hibiscus blooms at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on the southern island of Okinawa, Japan.   (AP Photos/Koji Ueda)

(Newser) – China and Japan are already locked in a territorial dispute over one group of Japanese-controlled islands—the Senkakus—and now the Middle Kingdom appears to be eying another. An editorial published today in the People's Daily newspaper, widely considered a Chinese government mouthpiece, calls for a "reconsideration" of Japan's claim to the Ryukyu islands, which include Okinawa, reports the AFP.

The editorial, penned by scholars from China's leading state-run think tank, argue that the islands were a "vassal state" of China, but that China had been so battered by foreign aggression it was unable to fight the Japanese annexation of the islands in 1879. But the piece doesn't go quite so far as to argue that the Ryukyus are Chinese territory, notes the Wall Street Journal. "Our so-called 'reconsideration' is absolutely not saying the Ryukus belong to China or the Ryukus should belong to China," said one of the authors in an interview. "We’re pointing out the facts, telling the Japanese government that if there are questions about the Ryukyus, then they can’t even begin to talk about the [Senkakus]."

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Showing 3 of 9 comments
justice_first
May 8, 2013 10:06 PM CDT
China is actually telling the truth despite all the anti-communist sentiment. The Ryukyu was an independent country ( a tributary state to China ) before being "illegally" annexed, occupied by Japan in 1879. It was the first country that Japan colonized after the Meiji period. After 1945, Japan agreed to revert all conquered territories by violence and greed to their privous status, this should include the Ryukyu Kingdom. The US whether knowingly, or unknowingly, "gave" the Ryukyu to japan in 1972 without consulting China. The act was illegal. China was not even a signing party of the San Francisco Treaty of 1951, due to the cold war. The history is very clear that Ryukyu is not Japan even to this date. The US had no authority to "give" the sovereignty of Ryukyu to Japan, under the post war order and Japan's terms of surrender. This is a matter for historians, not for politicians to argue. The disputed islands were never part of the Ryukyu Kingdom, from historic, geographic, geological points of view.
jerrymac
May 8, 2013 3:42 PM CDT
This will be a major concern for the US if China is seriously considering taking back the Ryukyu islands especially Okinawa. There are currently 30 - 40 thousand US service members stationed in Okinawa, and the bases, training and storage areas we have there account for approximately 25% of the Islands area. Those numbers, personnel and land area, will be reduced in the coming years as past agreements and treaties take effect. China, of course, is well aware of this and is possibly using the call for a return of the Ryukyu islands as a bargaining chip in the battle for control of the Senkakus island chains. Either way, China has tweaked the US's nose about with this editorial.
ChopperPilot
May 8, 2013 1:24 PM CDT
"We’re pointing out the facts, telling the Japanese government that if there are questions about the Ryukyus, then they can’t even begin to talk about the [Senkakus]." Which shouldn't be a problem, since CHINA is the one doing all the talking about the Senkakus