The OPRI Center for Island Studies, SPF is proud to present the Review of Island Studies. This English-language resource aims to bring scholarly analysis of island-related issues, particularly from the perspectives of historical developments and international law, to a global readership. We hope you will find it informative and helpful, and we thank you for visiting.

Latest Posts:

The Senkaku Islands as Viewed through Chinese Law SAKAMOTO Shigeki (Sep 12, 2016)

English-Language Research Papers Related to Takeshima Prepared by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1947 TSUKAMOTO Takashi (Sep 12, 2016)

The Senkaku Islands as Viewed through Chinese Law

China claims sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands and is engaged in maritime territorial disputes with several of its neighbors. The country’s domestic laws are a valuable lens for understanding its approach to these issues. Sakamoto Shigeki, a professor of international law specializing in maritime policy and legal affairs, presents a detailed examination of Chinese legal claims with respect to the Senkakus, as well as to disputed waters in the South China Sea, concluding that Japan needs to review its own legislation and to communicate closely with China to avoid an escalation.

the consistency with international legislation—in particular UNCLOS—of certain aspects of these laws is doubtful, and in my opinion Japan should continue asserting the illegitimacy of those components it feels are out of step with international law.

The Senkaku Islands as Viewed through Chinese Law

China claims sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands and is engaged in maritime territorial disputes with several of its neighbors. The country’s domestic laws are a valuable lens for understanding its approach to these issues. Sakamoto Shigeki, a professor of international law specializing in maritime policy and legal affairs, presents a detailed examination of Chinese legal claims with respect to the Senkakus, as well as to disputed waters in the South China Sea, concluding that Japan needs to review its own legislation and to communicate closely with China to avoid an escalation.

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The "Critical Date" of the Takeshima Dispute

The territorial dispute over Takeshima began in 1952, when South Korean President Syngman Rhee asserted sovereignty over a sea area including the islands. Takeshima is Japanese territory historically and legally, and Japan has urged Korea to agree to International Court of Justice proceedings to resolve the issue, to no avail. Legal specialist Miyoshi Masahiro explores the case, defining 1952 as the “critical date” after which acts should not be taken into consideration in determining the legal status of Takeshima. South Korea must promptly recognize the need for a law-based resolution.

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Latest Research

The Senkaku Islands as Viewed through Chinese Law

China claims sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands and is engaged in maritime territorial disputes with several of its neighbors. The country’s domestic laws are a valuable lens for understanding its approach to these issues. Sakamoto Shigeki, a professor of international law specializing in maritime policy and legal affairs, presents a detailed examination of Chinese legal claims with respect to the Senkakus, as well as to disputed waters in the South China Sea, concluding that Japan needs to review its own legislation and to communicate closely with China to avoid an escalation.

Read More

The "Critical Date" of the Takeshima Dispute

The territorial dispute over Takeshima began in 1952, when South Korean President Syngman Rhee asserted sovereignty over a sea area including the islands. Takeshima is Japanese territory historically and legally, and Japan has urged Korea to agree to International Court of Justice proceedings to resolve the issue, to no avail. Legal specialist Miyoshi Masahiro explores the case, defining 1952 as the “critical date” after which acts should not be taken into consideration in determining the legal status of Takeshima. South Korea must promptly recognize the need for a law-based resolution.

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The Legal Status of the Senkaku Islands (Part 1)

The Senkaku Islands have been officially Japanese territory since 1895, when the Meiji government formally incorporated them. Well before then, though, the islands were culturally and traditionally a part of the Ryukyus. In the first part of his paper, the legal specialist Ozaki Shigeyoshi examines Chinese documents to show that their references to the islands, including their names, drew heavily on Ryukyu knowledge about them, making it clear that they were never part of China. This paper will be posted in two installments. Part 1 is displayed below; click the link to jump to Part 2 once it is uploaded.

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English-Language Research Papers Related to Takeshima Prepared by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1947

During the occupation period, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted a series of research papers to the United States. Some of these focused on territorial issues as Japan sought to clarify what it would retain in the peace settlement. There is an argument that Japanese lobbying efforts during this period led to the mistaken definition of Takeshima as not being a part of Korean territory in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty. But the legal scholar Tsukamoto Takashi’s examination concludes that this was not the case.

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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.

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Latest Readings

English-Language Research Papers Related to Takeshima Prepared by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1947

During the occupation period, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted a series of research papers to the United States. Some of these focused on territorial issues as Japan sought to clarify what it would retain in the peace settlement. There is an argument that Japanese lobbying efforts during this period led to the mistaken definition of Takeshima as not being a part of Korean territory in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty. But the legal scholar Tsukamoto Takashi’s examination concludes that this was not the case.

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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.

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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.

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