Readings

Notes on David Helliwell's "The Clashing Rocks"

On his blog Serica, Dr. David Helliwell—curator of Chinese collections at Oxford’s Bodleian Library—penned an entry on two Chinese documents in the library’s holdings. One of these, Shunfeng xiangsong (Voyage with a Tail Wind), was completed after 1573 and is the first text to refer to the Senkaku Islands. In this essay, the Chinese classical literature specialist Ishiwi Nozomu addresses Helliwell’s treatment of this text and critically analyzes Chinese claims that it dates to 1403 and represents proof of China’s ownership of the islands from antiquity.

The clashing rocks

For sure, Diaoyutai(Senkaku) is the earliest recorded name of the islands, and the reason the matter finds itself in this blog is because by an extraordinary coincidence, the first textual references to them appear in two documents of entirely different provenance in the Bodleian Library.

China's "Diaoyu Dao White Paper" and Territorial Claims

In September 2012, the People’s Republic of China published a white paper titled “Diaoyu Dao, an Inherent Territory of China,” along with a report going into greater detail on the country’s claim to the Senkaku Islands. In this essay, the defense specialist Takai Susumu spells out the historical facts that counter these documents’ claims. The Ming- and Qing-era maps and texts presented as evidence for China’s historical ownership of the islands are not convincing proof in accordance with international law, and the postwar disposition of the Senkakus shows them to be Japan’s alone.

Deciphering Island Issues from a Sinocentric Perspective

China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea are rooted deeply in historical factors, such as a drive to accomplish its “manifest destiny” of recovering sway extending to the borders of its former empire. A three-year research program examined East Asian maritime security and concluded that “selective confrontation” with China is called for today. Defense specialist Akimoto Kazumine, an OPRF senior research fellow, gives an overview of the project’s findings and their relevance to regional nation’s relations with China.

Research on the Senkaku Islands: Background and Beginnings

In a dialogue with defense studies specialist Takai Susumu, the international legal scholar Okuhara Toshio traces the history of his involvement with the Senkaku Islands issue, including his research trips to Japan’s southern islands just before the time of Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese rule. Looking to the future, he discusses whether Japan and China can return to the wise approaches taken in the past to address territorial issues and looks at prospects for oil extraction in the seas near the islands.

The Debate on Island Issues at International Conferences

A number of international scholarly gatherings in recent years have taken up such subjects as delimitation of maritime boundaries, ocean governance, and maritime jurisdictional disputes. Here Terasaki Naomichi Hiro, a legal specialist and senior fellow at the Ocean Policy Research Foundation, gives an overview of three conferences he attended, presenting information on ways in which participants referred to Japanese islands including Okinotorishima Island, Takeshima, and the Senkakus—at times even when those islands were not the topic of the gathering in question.