Presentations on trends in international discourse on island issues, introductions to and explanations of relevant topics, and other writings that paint a fuller picture of the island-related questions confronting the world today.

The Law of Naval Warfare and China's Maritime Militia

The sheer size and scope of the vast network of China’s maritime militia complicates the battlespace, degrades any opponent’s decision-making process and exposes adversaries to political dilemmas that will make them more cautious to act against China during a maritime crisis or naval war. The legal implications are no less profound. The maritime militia has emerged in parallel with China’s ascent to great power status. As the world’s newest major maritime power, China warrants close attention. The rapid growth in the size and quality of the PLAN has raised concern regionally, as well as in Delhi and Washington, D.C. Since China soon will have the second largest navy in the world, it is especially important to explore the implications of its auxiliary militia force under international law.

Japan Coast Guard Activities On and Around Takeshima

The islands of Takeshima, an inherent part of Japanese territory, have been occupied by South Korea from 1954. The Japan Coast Guard is believed to have had its first involvement with the islands when it conducted surveys in June of the previous year. Hirose Hajime, an emeritus professor at the Japan Coast Guard Academy, traces the history of the JCG involvement with Takeshima, examining teaching materials, accounts of the surveys in the 1950s, and JCG white papers and annual reports.

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.

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.

Refutation of Korean Media Claims Regarding Japanese Maps of Takeshima(Part1)

Japanese Maps from the 1905 Incorporation into Japanese Territory Until 1945

The South Korean media produce a steady flow of commentary claiming that the island Takeshima, known in Korean as Dokdo, has been shown to be historically Korean territory by some newly discovered maps or documents. In the first part of his two-part essay, the historical geographer Funasugi Rikinobu notes that the International Court of Justice is unlikely to view old maps as a solid basis for sovereignty. Through a detailed examination of the District Overview Map, produced by the Japanese authorities in 1936, he counters Korean claims that its maps show Takeshima to be Korean territory.

Deciphering Island Issues from a Sinocentric Perspective

Looking Back on the “Maritime Security Environment in East Asian Seas” Research Project

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.

The Functions and Work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf

How It Responds to Disputed Island Claims Among Coastal States

Iuchi Yumiko and Usui Asano, two OPRF research fellows, explain the role of the CLCS, a body tasked with examining and recommending approval of submissions from coastal states regarding their continental shelf limits. Offshore islands can serve as the baseline for extensions of these limits, making them a vital part of states’ submissions to the CLCS. When conflicting submissions are made, as by the coastal states surrounding the South China Sea, how does the commission function? And how has Japan’s 2008 submission extending its continental shelf in seven regions been regarded?

International Symposium in Korea on the Takeshima Dispute

Sakamoto Shigeki, a professor of international law, attended a November 2011 symposium in Seoul marking the sixtieth anniversary of the Syngman Rhee Line, by which South Korea designated a broad stretch of the Sea of Japan, including Takeshima, as Korean territory. This was a blow to Japanese fishing operators, who were forcibly prevented from fishing these waters, and Japan protested the Rhee Line until its 1965 repeal. Takeshima remains under Korean occupation, though, and recent moves to position the Rhee Line as a precursor to today’s exclusive economic zone concept are troubling.

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.

The Problems in the South China Sea

Based on Discussions at the “Security Environment of the Seas in East Asia” International Conference

In February 2012 the second in a series of international conferences was held in Singapore. There participants discussed territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Japan is not a party to these disputes, but they have bearing on the nation for their impact on the East Asian security environment and on China’s relations with other states. Defense specialist Ueno Hideshi introduces the range of views presented at this conference on Chinese territorial claims, US responses, and other factors that will need close attention as the region moves forward.