Home > Japan’s Response Respecting Law and Order in the International Community

Japan’s Response Respecting Law and
Order in the International Community

 The Northern Territories and Takeshima are parts of Japan’s territory within its sovereignty. However, Japan cannot exercise a part of its jurisdiction therein in reality.
The Senkaku Islands are part of Japan’s territory where, though there exists no issue of territorial sovereignty, situations in the maritime areas surrounding the islands have become complex.
 In the international community, you cannot depend on police like you would domestically do. In principle, a nation has to protect its own interest by itself.
In accordance with the Japanese Constitution, Japan shall not resort to war nor the use of force as a means to settle international disputes.
 In today’s international community, there are a variety of ways to peacefully coordinate the opinions and interests of different nations.
Japan has responded to various situations pertaining to its territory and sovereignty in an appropriate manner and in line with the nature of each situation, while respecting law and order in the international community.
 Here is each situation and how Japan responds.

The Northern Territories

« Nature of the Situation »

Territorial issue exists.

« Background to date »

In 1956 the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration was signed and diplomatic relations between the two countries were resumes. More than six decades have passed since then.
In this period, Japan consistently maintained a basic policy of establishing stable relations based on genuine mutual understanding with Russia, an important neighboring nation, by concluding a peace treaty through the resolution of the greatest issue of concern between Japan and Russia, namely the Northern Territories issue, and Japan has persistently been negotiating with the Soviet Union and Russia based thereon.

« Japan’s response »

Persistent diplomatic negotiations for the resolution of the territorial issue at the summit level and various other levels

See the details

Takeshima

« Nature of the Situation »

Territorial issue exists.

« Background to date »

Takeshima is an inherent territory of Japan, although it has been illegally occupied by the Republic of Korea (ROK).
Japan and the ROK expressed their respective claims to each other via diplomatic note in the 1950s and 1960s.
With no bilateral solution forthcoming, Japan proposed to the ROK to refer the case to the International Court of Justice in 1954, 1962 and 2012.
The ROK has continually rejected these proposals.

« Japan’s response »

Pursuit of a solution based on international law.
Continued protests against the illegal occupation by the ROK

See the details

The Senkaku Islands

« Nature of the Situation »

There exists no issue of territorial sovereignty to be resolved.

« Background to date »

In December 1971, the People’s Republic of China (China) stated for the first time that China has historically held the Senkaku Islands since the 14th Century.
China’s claims are based on its unique interpretation of history, and not supported by any grounds based on international law.
China has made repeated incursions into Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands. The frequency of the incursions has sharply risen since 2012.

« Japan’s response »

Requesting China to act with respect for law and order in the international community, and explaining the situation to the rest of the international community to gain understanding of the situation.

See the details

The Northern Territories

The Government of Japan’s Position and Basic Policy on the Northern Territories Issue

 In view of the dynamic changes in the world today, Japan and Russia share great responsibility for the stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. The absence of a peace treaty between Japan and Russia for more than 70 years after the end of World War II is an unnatural state of affairs and thus it is necessary to resolve the Northern Territories issue and conclude a peace treaty.
 The Northern Territories, which consist of Etorofu Island, Kunashiri Island, Shikotan Island, and the Habomai Islands, have been handed down from generation to generation by Japanese people, and are inherent territories of Japan, which have never been part of a foreign country.
 The Four Northern Islands have remained occupied by Russia up until the present day, without any legal grounds. Since the issue still remains unresolved although more than 70 years have passed since the end of World War II, Japan and Russia have yet to conclude a peace treaty.
 The Government of Japan intends to continue to persistently negotiate with Russia, in order to conclude a peace treaty through the resolution of the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands.
Pamphlet (PDF) Islands's Information

Part1: During and after WWII

History of the determination of territory

 In the Edo Period, the principality of Matsumae defined the Four Northern Islands as part of its own domain as early as the beginning of 17th century, and gradually established control over the Islands. In 1855, the border between Japan and Russia was legally demarcated between Etorofu Island and Uruppu Island. Since then, the Four Northern Islands, consisting of Etorofu Island, Kunashiri Island, Shikotan Island and the Habomai Islands, have never been a territory of any other country. This section explains the history of the determination of territory between Japan and Russia.

  • 1644 –In the Edo Period, Japan comes to realize the existence of the Four Northern Islands, and gradually establishes control
  • 1855Conclusion of the Treaty of Commerce, Navigation and Delimitation between Japan and Russia: the border between the two countries is determined peacefully to be between Etorofu Island and Uruppu Island
  • 1875Conclusion of the Treaty for the Exchange of Sakhalin for the Kurile Islands: the Kurile Islands, from Shumushu Island to Uruppu Island, become part of Japan
  • 1905Conclusion of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty : a part of the Karafuto (Sakhalin) Island lying to the south of 50 degrees north latitude is ceded to Japan
Rise of the Territorial Dispute

 On August 9, 1945, the Soviet Union, in violation of the Neutrality Pact that was still in force between Japan and the Soviet Union, opened war against Japan. Even after Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration, making clear its intent to surrender, the Soviet Union continued its offensive against Japan and occupied the Four Northern Islands. At the end of the war, 3,124 households, or 17,291 Japanese citizens, lived on the Four Northern Islands. Around half of them were immediately forced to flee their homes, and all were forcibly deported by 1948.

  • Aug. 1941Atlantic Charter
  • Nov. 1943Confirmation by the Allies of the common principles, including the principle to seek no territorial aggrandizement
  • Feb. 1945Signing of the Yalta Agreement by the leaders of the US, the UK and the Soviet Union
  • 1945 –Opening of war against Japan by the Soviet Union: continuation of offensive and occupation of the Four Northern Islands even after Japan makes clear its intent to surrender
  • Sep. 1951Signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty: renunciation by Japan of the Kurile Islands, which do not include the Four Northern Islands, and the southern part of Sakhalin
  • Apr. 1941Neutrality Pact between Japan and the Soviet Union
  • 1945Potsdam Declaration

Part2: Agreements between Leaders

 Since the issue of the Northern Territories first arose, the negotiations between the Governments of Japan and the Soviet Union/Russia have been continuing until today . Here, let’s review the history of negotiations from the time of the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration in October 1956.

1956 – 1998
  • Oct. 1956The Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration
  • Apr. 1991President Gorbachev’s Visit to Japan
  • Oct. 1993President Yeltsin’s Visit to Japan
  • Apr. 1998The Summit Meeting in Kawana
  • Nov. 1998The Summit Meeting in Moscow
2001 – 2019
  • Mar. 2001The Irkutsk Summit Meeting
  • Jan. 2003Prime Minister Koizumi’s Visit to Russia
  • Apr. 2013Prime Minister Abe’s Visit to Russia
  • Dec. 2016President Putin’s Visit to Japan
  • Nov. 2018Summit meeting in Singapore
  • Jun. 2019President Putin’s visit to Japan

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Takeshima

Japan’s Basic Position

 Takeshima is indisputably an inherent part of the territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based on international law.
 The ROK has been occupying Takeshima with no basis in international law. Any measures the ROK takes regarding Takeshima based on such an illegal occupation have no legal justification.
 Japan will continue to seek the settlement of the dispute over territorial sovereignty over Takeshima on the basis of international law in a calm and peaceful manner.
Pamphlet (PDF) Island's Information

Part1: History of Takeshima as part of Japan’s territory in the prewar era

Permission granted by the Edo Shogunate for passage to Takeshima

 It was during the Edo Period, in the early 17th century, that Japan, as a state, first permitted the use of Takeshima. The Edo Shogunate issued directives to prohibit the Japanese from travelling abroad, while permitting passage to Takeshima.
 Japan established its sovereignty over Takeshima in the middle of the 17th century at the latest.

  • 1618The Edo Shogunate granted permission to passage to Utsuryo Island to merchants in Yonago (Tottori Prefecture). Later, permission to passage to Takeshima was also granted
  • 1693 – 1696Genronku Takeshima Ikken (Affair)
Incorporation Takeshima into Shimane Prefecture in Meiji Era

 Around 1900 private use of Takeshima became active. In 1905, the Japanese Government incorporated Takeshima into Shimane Prefecture by Cabinet Decision, reaffirming its sovereignty over the islands.

  • Jan. 28, 1905The Japanese Government incorporated Takeshima into Shimane Prefecture by Cabinet decision
Continuous execution of the administrative right over Takeshima
Jurisdiction
  • May 1905Entry in Ledger of State-Owned Land
  • Mar. 29, 1909Designating the area of jurisdiction by Imperial Edict
Registration
  • Jun. 6, 1905Commercial Registration
Taxation
  • Mar. 1, 1906Taxation on sea lion hunting
  • 1906 –Collection of the rent for state-owned land
Industrial regulation and licensing
  • Apr. 14, 1905Designating sea lion hunting as an activity requiring license by the Prefectural Governor
  • Jun. 5, 1905Issuing license for sea lion hunting
  • Apr. 1, 1921Permission to collect seaweed around Takeshima
  • Jun. 6, 1936Granting permission for prospecting for rock phosphate
Let’s see Korea’s Statement
  • Korea's Statement (1)Korean ancient documents
  • Korea's Statement (2)Ahn Yong-bok’s trip to Japan
  • Korea's Statement (3)1900 Imperial Decree No. 41

Part2: Treatment of Takeshima in the San Francisco Peace Treaty and actions of the Republic of Korea

(1) End of the War and Negotiations toward the Conclusion of the Peace Treaty
End of the War

 Japan was under occupation until the Peace Treaty was concluded with the Allied Powers.

  • Aug. 1945Acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration
Developments in Japan
  • Jan. 1946Temporary suspension of Japan’s administrative authority
  • Jun. 1946Suspension of Japan’s administrative right
Negotiations toward the Conclusion of the Peace Treaty

 The US began preparing a draft of the Peace Treaty around 1947, then developed its draft while holding preparatory consultations with countries concerned, and consulted with the United Kingdom (UK), which had prepared a separate draft.

Developments among the Allied Powers
  • 1951US Draft
  • Apr. 25, 1951 –US-UK consultations
US-UK Joint Draft

 A draft was made based on the recognition that Takeshima belonged to Japan.

Developments among the Allied Powers
  • May 3, 1951US-UK Joint Draft
ROK requested an amendment of the Draft

 The US replied that Takeshima had never been part of Korea, and belonged to Japan.

Developments in the ROK
  • Jul. 19, 1951The ROK’s requests to the US to modify the revised Joint US-UK draft
Developments in the US
  • Aug. 10, 1951The US rejects the ROK’s requests (the so-called Rusk Letter)
(2) Signing and Enforcement of the Peace Treaty / Developments in the ROK
Signing of the Peace Treaty / Syngman Rhee Line

 The ROK’s requests to modify the provisions were rejected; the Treaty confirmed that Takeshima was Japan’s territory.
 The ROK, whose requests were rejected, resorted to forceful measures; Japan, the US and other countries protested.

  • Sep. 8, 1951Signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty

Developments in the ROK
  • Jan. 18, 1952The ROK President declares ‘maritime sovereignty’
Developments in the US
  • Feb. 11, 1952US protest against the declaration of maritime sovereignty
Entry into force of the Peace Treaty / Illegal Occupation by the ROK

 Japanese people resumed passage to Takeshima, but were soon blocked by the ROK.
 An incident occurred in which Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels were fired upon.
 The ROK dispatched its Coast Guard battalion to Takeshima to occupy it illegally.
 The US and the UK viewed Takeshima as belonging to Japan, in accordance with the San Francisco Peace Treaty.

  • Apr. 28, 1952Entry into force of the San Francisco Peace Treaty
Developments in Japan
  • Jun. 1953 –Passage to Takeshima resumes
  • Jul. 1953 –Incident in which shots were fired against Patrol Vessel Hekura of the Japan Coast Guard
View of the US / UK
  • View of the US:Report of the Van Fleet Mission to the Far East
  • View of the UK:Cable sent from the British Embassy in Japan to the Foreign Office
Japan made proposals to refer the issue to the ICJ, the ROK rejected them

Developments in Japan
  • Sep. 1954 –Proposal to the ROK to refer the issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ)
Developments in the ROK
  • The ROK’s actions on Takeshima

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The Senkaku Islands

Japan’s Basic Position

 There is no doubt that the Senkaku Islands are clearly an inherent part of the territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law. Indeed, the Senkaku Islands are under the valid control of Japan.
 There exists no issue of territorial sovereignty to be resolved concerning the Senkaku Islands.
 Japan will act firmly and calmly to maintain its territorial integrity. Japan continues to strive for peace and stability in the region, which is to be established through the observance of international law.
Pamphlet (PDF) Islands's Information

Part1: History of the Senkaku Islands as part of Japan’s territory in the prewar era

Senkaku Islands – uninhabited islands ruled by no country

 Until the second half of the 19th Century, the Senkaku Islands were uninhabited islands around the Ryukyu Islands that belonged to no country around the Ryukyu Islands.
 After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Japan modernized its administrative organization domestically, while externally making efforts to enhance its status in the modern international community, such as by revising unequal treaties signed with other nations, at a time when western powers were advancing into Asia.
 As the situation around the East China Sea had become more volatile, the Meiji Government faced critical challenges in clarifying the status of peripheral islands including the Senkaku Islands. Such challenges became even more critical in the 1880s, when tension was increasing with the growing presence of western powers in East Asia, exemplified by the outbreak of the Sino-French War (1883-85) and the Port Hamilton Incident (April 1885).

Investigation on the Senkaku Islands and increasing needs for administrative control
  • Sep. 22 – Dec. 5,
    1885
    Okinawa Prefecture conducted an investigation of the Senkaku Islands and proposed that the central government erect national markers
  • Jan. 13, 1890Okinawa Prefecture proposed that the Government incorporate the Senkaku Islands into the Japanese territory to regulate fishery operators
  • Nov. 2, 1893Repeated proposal from Okinawa Prefecture for erecting national markers
Incorporation into Japan’s territory
  • Jan. 14, 1895Cabinet decision to incorporate the Senkaku Islands into the jurisdiction of Okinawa Prefecture, and erect national markers for the need to regulate fishing operator
Valid Control of the Senkaku Islands
Jurisdiction
  • 1895Placed under the jurisdiction of Okinawa Prefecture
  • May 31, 1897Applicable areas for certain laws
  • Dec. 3, 1902Incorporated into Tonoshiro Village
  • 1908Affiliation changed to Yaeyama Village
  • 1920Incorporation of Taisho Island Establishment of Aza (district)
Management and disposition of state-owned land
  • 1896 –Lease of state-owned land Collection of rent
  • 1932 –Sale of the four islands of the Senkaku islands
Registration
  • 1932 –Registered in the Ledger of Land
Permission and licensing
  • Jun. 6, 1922Prospecting for phosphate
Others
  • 1899 – 1904
    Okinawa Prefecture implemented temporary land consolidation projects, taking measurement of the islands in Yaeyama, including the Senkaku Islands, and making official maps
  • 1930Zenji Koga applied for the sale of the four islands of the Senkaku islands.
    The Okinawa Forestry Office implemented an on-site survey to assess the land value
Let's see China's Argument
  • China's Argument (1)Diaoyu Dao is China's Inherent Territory
  • China's Argument (2)Japan Stole Diaoyu Dao from China

Part2: Senkaku Islands under administration by the US and the return of Okinawa

Senkaku Islands under administration by the US

 After the war, Okinawa was placed under military control by the US Forces. In accordance with the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the territorial sovereignty of Okinawa including the Senkaku Islands remained in Japan, and the administration was executed by the US.
 The US recognized the Senkaku Islands as part of Okinawa from the time of the war. Under administration by the US, the Senkaku Islands were placed under the jurisdiction of the Yaeyama Islands. The same status regarding land-owners of the four Senkaku islands, passage by fishing operators, the implementation of academic surveys, among other matters, was basically maintained in the same form as from the time before the war.

1945 – 1952
  • Sep. 1945 –Initiation of the administration over Okinawa by the US Military Government
  • Sep. 1945,
    Apr. 1952
    Establishment of US Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands
    and the Ryukyu Government of the Ryukyu Islands
  • Apr. 1952 –The San Francisco Peace Treaty enters into effect, and Okinawa is formally placed under administration by the US
  • 1952 –Ordinances by the US Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (USCAR) include the Senkaku Islands in the area of Ryukyu
Cases demonstrating that the US (US Forces) was executing administration over the Senkaku Islands
  • 1948The US Military Government in Ryukyu designates Kuba Island as a bombing range
  • 1950sThe US Forces conclude land-lease contracts for military reserve with the land-owner of Kuba Island
Fisheries activities and academic surveys around the Senkaku Islands
  • Academic research after the war started on fishing boats headed for the Senkaku Islands
Okinawa Reversion

 In the late 1960s, the illegal entry by the Taiwanese into the Senkaku Islands became a problematic issue, and the Government of the Ryukyu Islands started enforcement in consultation with USCAR. This was a time when the Japanese Government was conducting surveys, and the situation around the Senkaku Islands was beginning to change. This change became all the more conspicuous in the lead up to the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, signed on June 17, 1971. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan suddenly began to claim territorial sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands, which they had never done before.

  • May 1969A report on the potential oil reserves is made public
  • June 17, 1971The Okinawa Reversion Agreement is concluded /
    The area of return includes the Senkaku Islands
  • May 15, 1972The Okinawa Reversion Agreement enters into effect /
    In accordance with the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement, Kuba and Taisho Islands are provided as bombing ranges

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