Monday, March 2, 2009

US-Japan treaty extends to disputed islands?

The United States may try to stay relatively neutral between allies South Korea and Japan when it comes to Tokto/Takeshima (Liancourt Rocks; aka Dokdo), but according to the Japan Times, the US-Japan Security Treaty extends to the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands (called Diaoyutai in Chinese). 

Larry Walker, the spokesman for the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto US embassy in Taipei (with which Washington has no official diplomatic ties), said this:
The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security signed by Tokyo and Washington in 1960, which states that it applies to the territories under the administration of Japan, does apply to the island.
Beijing and Taipei have a mutual claim on the islands (and each other). But to keep things nice and diplomatic, he added:
The U.S. does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the islands. We expect the claimants to resolve the issue through peaceful means and among themselves.
Ah, that sounds more like the Tokto issue! Let's not forget that the United States has sworn to defend Taiwan as well, but from attack by China, not Japan.

The competing claims on Senkaku/Diaoyutai are a sore point between Tokyo and Taipei, which is otherwise quite pro-Japan (with which it shares a considerable amount of history, and which provides a counterweight to Beijing's power in the region). To Beijing, Japan's occupation of these islands between Okinawa and Taiwan is one more example of the former World War II aggressor not coming to grips with its vicious Imperial past. 

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