The  Senkaku/Diaoyu  Dispute  

Emeritus  Professor  Carl  Thayer   Regional  Security  Studies   School  of  Humani>es  &  Social  Sciences   Australian  Defence  Force  Academy   Canberra,  September  13,  2013  

Overview  
1.  2.  3.  4.  5.  Interna>onal  Law     Geography  of  the  Senkaku  Islands   Historical  Claims   Crisis  April-­‐September  2012   Geostrategic  Significance  

Interna>onal  Law  -­‐  UNCLOS  
UN  Conven>on  on  the  Law  of  the  Sea  
•  Both  Japan  and  China  are  par>es  (1996)   •  Ar>cle  57:  from  baselines  claim  200  nm   Exclusive  Economic  Zone  (EEZ)   •  Sovereign  rights  to  resources  in  the  water   column  and  sea  bed  

Interna>onal  Law  -­‐  UNCLOS  
•  Ar>cle  57  a  coastal  state  may  define  the  outer   limits  of  its  con>nental  shelf   •  (a)  up  to  a  distance  of  200  nm  or   •  (b)  to  the  natural  prolonga>on  of  its  land   territory  to  outer  edge  of  the  con>nental   margin  (i)  up  to  350  nm  or  (ii)  100  nm  seaward   of  2,500  meter  depth  contour  

Japan  claims   200  nm   Exclusive   Economic  Zone   China  bases  its   claim  on   prolonga>on   of  con>nental   shelf  

Okinawa  Trough  

Interna>onal  Law  -­‐  UNCLOS  
•  Islands  –  naturally  formed,  support  human   habita>on,  have  economic  func>on   •  Islands  –  en>tled  to  200  nm  Exclusive   Economic  Zone  
–  Sovereign  rights  over  resources  in  water  column   or  on  seabed  

•  Rocks  –  not  islands,  en>tled  to  12  nm   territorial  sea  

Geography  of  the  Senkaku  Islands  

Historical  Background  

Historical  Claims  -­‐  Japan  
•  The  Senkakus  were  terra  nullus  when  Japan’s   Cabinet  issued  resolu>on  on  sovereignty   markers  in  January  1895   •  Japan  has  con>nuously  administered  the   islands  for  over  a  century   •  Japan  has  residual  sovereignty  during  period   of  Allied  (US)  occupa>on   •  China  acquiesced  to  Japan’s  sovereignty  

Historical  Claims  -­‐  Japan  
•  The  Senkaku  islands  were  leased  to  private   individuals  who  farmed  them   •  Senkakus  inherited  by  their  children   •  Acer  1945,  Senkakus  were  administered  by   the  US  as  part  of  Okinawa  
–  The  US  paid  rent  to  Japanese  who  held  lease  as   compensa>on  for  use  as  bombing  target   –  Implicit  admission  islands  were  under  Japanese   sovereignty  

 

Historical  Claims  -­‐  China  
•  Historically  China  discovered  and  used  the   Diaoyu  islands  and  took  ownership  over  them   •  Japanese  government  has  acknowledged   China’s  claims  to  the  islands   •  Taiwan  also  claims  the  islands  which  it  calls   the  Diaoyutai  

First  Sino-­‐Japanese  War,  1884-­‐85  

Treaty  of  Shimonoseki,  April  1895  

Contemporary  History  

Contemporary  dispute  arose  in  1969  acer   discovery  of  oil  thought  to  be  world’s  tenth   largest  deposit  

Contemporary  Background  
•  Sovereignty  dispute  over  Senkakus  arose  in   1969  with  discovery  of  oil   •  1970  Chinese  media  claimed  Diaoyu  as  ‘sacred   territory’   •  1972  Okinawa  reversion  to  Japan   •  1972  Japan  and  China  normalise  rela>ons   •  1978  bilateral  fishing  agreement  

Major  Mari>me  Incidents  
1974  Chinese  ships  (N=  80-­‐140)  appeared   within  12  nm  territorial  sea  of  Senkakus  with   signs  proclaiming  ‘China’s  sacred  territory’   April  2010,  two  Chinese  submarines  and  eight   destroyers  sailed  close  to  Okinawa    Naval  helicopters  approached  Japanese  destroyer  at  
close  range  

September  2010,  Chinese  fishing  boat  rammed   two  Japanese  Coast  Guard  vessels    Chinese  captain  taken  into  custody  –  major  poli>cal  
crisis  erupted  un>l  skipper  released  

Contemporary  Background  
•  October  2004-­‐mid-­‐2008,  eleven  rounds  of   nego>a>ons  on  mari>me  claims  in  East  China   Sea   •  June  2008  agreement  in  principle  to  develop   four  gas  fields  in  East  China  Sea  
–  Future  mari>me  joint  development  zone  would  be   created  straddling  median  line  

Crisis:  April-­‐September  2012  
•  By  2012  –  of  5  Senkaku  islands,  four  were   privately  owned  and  the  fich  was  owned  by   the  Japanese  government   •  April  2012  Shintaro  Ishihara  na>onalist   governor  of  Tokyo  announces  he  will  purchase   and  develop  islands  to  protect  sovereignty  
–  Set  up  major  fund  to  solicit  private  dona>ons  

•  Full  blown  diploma>c  crisis  erupts  

Seven  Interrelated  Developments  
1.  July  2012:  PM  Noda  announces  Government   will  buy  privately-­‐owned  islands  
–  China  considers  this  as  na>onalisa>on   –  This  is  spark  for  2012  crisis  in  rela>ons  with  China  

2.  Tensions  with  South  Korea  break  out  over   Dokdo/Takeshima  territorial  dispute  
–  South  Korean  president  visits  Dokdo  

 

3.  Interven>on   by  Chinese,   Taiwanese  and   Japanese   na>onalists   who  akempt  to   plant  flags  
 

4.  Erup>on  of  massive  an>-­‐Japanese   demonstra>ons  in  China  

Symbols  of  Japan  Smashed  

Demonstra>ons  Turn  Violent  

Japanese  Na>onalists  React  

Seven  Interrelated  Developments  
5.  Mul>faceted  response  by  Chinese  government:   •    Diploma>c  protests   •    Poli>cal  pressure  on  PM  Noda   •    Threats  of  ac>on  by  China’s  Defence  Ministry   •  Dispatch  of  increasing  numbers  of  Chinese    paramilitary  ships   •    Hong  Kong  ac>vists  land  on  islands   •    Japanese  imports  slowed  

Seven  Interrelated  Developments  
6.  Taiwanese  interven>on  
–  Coast  Guard  accompany  fishermen   –  Duel  by  water  cannon  

7.  US  declares  it  takes  no  side  on  sovereignty   dispute  but  reaffirms    that    Ar>cle  5  of  1960   Mutual  Security  Treaty  with  Japan  includes   defence  of  Senkaku  islands  

Major  Events  in  2013  
•  January:  two  incidents  in  which  Chinese   warships  lock  fire  control  radar  at  a  Japanese   helicopter  and  a  Japanese  MSDF  vessel   •  April:  flo>lla  of  Japanese  na>onalists  akempts   to  land  on  Senkakus   •  April:    Chinese  guided  missile  destroyer  and   frigate  conduct  exercises  near  Senkakus   •  Con>nued  brinkmanship  by  Chinese  navy  and   paramilitary  forces  

Geostrategic  Significance  
•  Poli>cal:  disagreement  over  whether  there  is  a   dispute  over  Senkakus  
–  Japan  says  there  is  no  dispute   –  Domes>c  na>onalism  in  both  Japan  and  China  sours   bilateral  rela>ons  

•  Security:  China  has  conducts  high-­‐profile  naval   and  paramilitary  patrols  in  area  around  the   Senkaku  Islands   •  Economic:  China  is  Japan’s  largest  trading  partner  

Geostrategic  Significance  
1.  Domes>c  na>onalism  in  China  (and  Japan)   has  entered  a  jingois>c  phase  and  is  a  potent   independent  force  driving  Chinese  foreign   policy   2.  Chinese  fac>ons  used  territorial  disputes  to   influence  domes>c  power  shic     3.  Territorial  disputes  in  East  China  Sea  pose   risk  for  U.S.  alliance  maintenance/ rebalancing  

Geostrategic  Significance  
5.  China  is  willing  to  use  economic  strength  to   pressure  Japan  and  other  claimants  
–  Rare  earths,  slowing  imports   –  Dispute  with  Philippines  -­‐  bananas  

6.  China  employs  paramilitary  agencies  to  press   its  claims,  making  military  conflict  unlikely  
–  Risk  of  miscalcula>on,  mispercep>on,   misadventure  

Geostrategic  Significance  
7.  China  is  building  up  its  paramilitary  force   which  is  has  merged  into  one  Coast  Guard   8.  Japan,  which  has  Cons>tu>onal  restric>on  on   use  of  military  (self-­‐defence  only)  is  moving   to  develop  and  modernise  its  Mari>me  Self-­‐ Defence  Force  and  push  Ar>cle  9  (peace   clause)  restric>ons  

The  Senkaku/Diaoyu  Dispute  
Emeritus  Professor  Carl  Thayer   Regional  Security  Studies   September  13,  2013