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Japan should show due wisdom over Diaoyu Islands: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-11-29 20:18
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The Diaoyu and nearby islands. [Photo/Xinhua]

According to the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation, the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, which are called the Senkaku Islands by Japan, are "territory stolen from China by Japan" during its invasion and colonial occupation of Chinese territory, and they should have been returned to China after Japan's unconditional surrender at the end of World War II.

They weren't, and the call for the "nationalization" of the islands by some right-wing Japanese politicians broke the long-term tacit consensus reached between Beijing and Tokyo, after their diplomatic relations were normalized in 1972, that the issue should be shelved. This has led to rising tensions between China and Japan, as the United States is trying to use the islands to drive a wedge between the two neighbors. A trick that Washington is similarly playing with China's Ren'ai Reef in a bid to estrange the Philippines and China.

It should be noted therefore that the latest face-off between China and Japan near the Diaoyu Islands has come hard on the heels of the Pentagon reiterating the US' "ironclad commitment" to defend all of Japan, "including the Senkaku Islands and other territories", as US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said while meeting with Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara in Washington in early October.

In their meeting, Austin made no bones about China being one of the major challenges Japan and the US face, and said the two allies shared the vision of a "free, open, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region" and had a common responsibility to defend it.

As such, China Coast Guard vessels were taking "necessary control measures" when they warned off some Japanese ships that "illegally intruded" into waters around the Diaoyu Islands on Tuesday. It is concerning that this is the second time this month that Japanese vessels have trespassed into the waters near the Chinese isles.

In his meeting with the Chinese leader in San Francisco earlier this month, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made clear his government's desire to mend bilateral ties with China. Noting that this year marks the 45th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China, Kishida said that the people of the two countries have an affectionate memory of the efforts made by the elder generations of leaders of the two countries in a wide range of areas to promote the development of friendly ties.

With the two countries' common interests far outweighing those of 45 years ago, Kishida was right to express the hope that his government can increase the positive factors in bilateral relations.

But to achieve that, his government needs to demonstrate sincerity and willingness to resolve the two countries' differences over the Diaoyu Islands through peaceful negotiations and dialogue. It should not let tensions over the islands be aggravated or exploited by the US, or any other third party. And it should refrain from making any provocative moves.

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