Advanced

Sovereignty over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands

Berg, Victor LU (2014) JURM02 20142
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
I Östkinesiska havet finns en avlägset belägen ögrupp bestående av fem öar och tre karga klippor. Ögruppen utgörs av en nödtorftig vegetation och det förefaller inte finnas något sötvatten. På grund av ögruppens ogästvänliga egenskaper har öarna genom historien ansetts vara av mycket litet ekonomiskt värde och de har sedan urminnes tider, bortsett från en kortare period i början av 1900-talet, varit obebodda. Denna ögrupp benämns på Kinesiska för Diaoyu och på Japanska för Senkaku och sedan 1971 gör både Japan, Folkrepubliken Kina och Republiken Kina suveränitetsanspråk på ögruppen. Denna dispyt uppstod som en följd av en FN sponsrad undersökning som genomfördes 1968 vilken uppmärksammade att stora olje- och gasfyndigheter kunde finnas i... (More)
I Östkinesiska havet finns en avlägset belägen ögrupp bestående av fem öar och tre karga klippor. Ögruppen utgörs av en nödtorftig vegetation och det förefaller inte finnas något sötvatten. På grund av ögruppens ogästvänliga egenskaper har öarna genom historien ansetts vara av mycket litet ekonomiskt värde och de har sedan urminnes tider, bortsett från en kortare period i början av 1900-talet, varit obebodda. Denna ögrupp benämns på Kinesiska för Diaoyu och på Japanska för Senkaku och sedan 1971 gör både Japan, Folkrepubliken Kina och Republiken Kina suveränitetsanspråk på ögruppen. Denna dispyt uppstod som en följd av en FN sponsrad undersökning som genomfördes 1968 vilken uppmärksammade att stora olje- och gasfyndigheter kunde finnas i närheten av dessa öar. Även om dagens dispyt uppkom som en konsekvens av oljefyndigheterna så är de potentiella ekonomiska fördelarna långt ifrån de enda anledningarna till varför motsättningar relaterade till denna dispyt fortsätter att blossa upp idag. Den främsta anledningen till dessa motsättningar är relaterad till nationalism, från både kinesisk och japansk sida, vilket fortsätter att försvåra för en lösning på konflikten. Japan innehar idag de facto kontroll över ögruppen, vilket hon har gjort sedan 1972 då USA återlämnade den administrativa kontroll USA hade erhållit efter andra världskrigets slut. Denna kontroll är ytterligare stärkt av det ömsesidiga försvarsavtalet mellan USA och Japan vilket även omfattar de bestridda öarna.

Det Japanska suveränitetsanspråket är baserat på ockupation, vilket är en av de etablerade metoderna att förvärva territorium. Japan påstår sig ha upptäckt öarna 1885 och efter en tioårsperiod av undersökningar rörande ögruppens status, beslutat att införliva dem 1895. Japan påstår vidare att de har vidmakthållit denna suveränitet sedan dess samt att ögruppen inte var avtalsinnehåll i vare sig Shimonosekiavtalet eller någon av de deklarationer som undertecknades under eller strax efter andra världskrigets slut (Krigsdeklarationerna). Traktaträtten är därför irrelevant i förhållande till suveränitetsfrågan enligt den japanska argumentationen. Folkrepubliken Kina och Republiken Kinas inställningar är i grunden densamma eftersom de har ett gemensamt förflutet. Inställningarna skiljer sig åt endast i relation till händelser som inträffade efter 1949. Den kinesiska inställningen är också baserad på metoden ockupation, Kina påstår sig ha upptäckt och namngett ögruppen före eller under Ming dynastin (1368-1644) och därefter behandlat dem i enlighet med de rekvisit folkrätten kräver för ockupation fram tills undertecknandet av Shimonosekiavtalet 17 april 1895, genom vilket ögruppen avträddes till förmån för Japan. Enligt Kina så var sedan ögruppen lagligen Japansk från 1895 till 1945 då Japan formellt kapitulerade. Som avtalsinnehåll till det dokument som Japan då undertecknade var två andra krigsdeklarationer vilka förpliktade Japan att återge suveräniteten till Kina, enligt den kinesiska uppfattningen.

Om en domstol eller tribunal någonsin skulle döma i den aktuella dispyten, skulle den dömande institutionen behövs ta ställning till en rad juridiska spörsmål som både är fallspecifika och av generellt folkrättsligt intresse. Ett sådant spörsmål, vilket möjligen är den mest kontroversiella aspekten av denna uppsats, relaterar till huruvida folkrättens regelverk rörande förvärv av territorium kan appliceras i icke västerländska delar av världen vilka historiskt reglerats av andra system rörande internationella relationer samt koncept rörande suveränitet. Eftersom kinesiska akademiker har argumenterat att folkrätten inte lämpar sig till att döma i den innevarande konflikten eftersom Ostasien är uppbyggt kring andra idéer om internationella relationer, har denna uppsats inkluderat ett alternativt regelverk, vilket har analyserats parallellt med folkrättens regler rörande ockupation.

Även om denna uppsats har författats från ett perspektiv liknande en domstols eller tribunals, så har inte syftet med uppsatsen varit att slutgiltigt döma i tvisten och fastslå vilken stat som har det starkaste anspråket. Med detta sagt så är det författarens uppfattning att, baserat på den historiska data som behandlats och med de språkliga översättningar som accepterats i uppsatsen, Japan förefaller ha ett starkare anspråk. Styrkan i det japanska anspråket härrör framförallt från det andra benet av intertemporal law, vilket i fall rörande förvärv av territorium premierar den stat som vid den kritiska tidpunkten uppfyller rekvisiten att ”faktiskt, beständigt och fredligt uppvisa statsfunktioner i relation till territoriet”. Den japanska kontrollen mellan 1895-1952 förefaller uppfylla dessa krav och den amerikanska administrationen, 1952-1972, syftade inte till att påverka den underliggande suveräniteten och därför vidmakthöll Japan dess suveränitet.

Det japanska anspråket stärks ytterligare av det faktum att Japan förefaller ha starkare argumentation i förhållande till varje övergripande juridiskt spörsmål som uppsatsen behandlat. Det första sådana spörsmålet som diskuterades var huruvida Kina någonsin förvärvade suveränitet. Svårigheten med denna analys bestod i att folkrättens krav rörande ockupation under den relevanta tidsperioden inte blivit tillräckligt preciserade. Författaren är av uppfattningen att en moderat ansats, där endast visuell upptäckt inte är tillräckligt för att erhålla suveränitet, är mest förnuftig and därför har Kina ett svagare folkrättsligt anspråk. Skulle däremot den politiska verklighet som historiskt präglat Ostasien tas med i bedömningen, har Kina ett starkare anspråk. Det andra spörsmålet som diskuterades var frågan om genom vilken metod Japan förvärvade suveränitet. Rörande denna fråga är författaren av uppfattningen att det inte går att utläsa från Shimonosekiavtalet att ögruppen var avtalsinnehåll. Dessutom kan den japanska inkorporeringsprocessen, hur svekfull den än må ha varit, svårligen göra inkorporeringen ogiltig. Det tredje spörsmålet som diskuterades var huruvida krigsdeklarationerna förpliktade Japan att återlämna ögruppen till Kina. Rörande denna fråga är författaren av uppfattningen att ett sådant synsätt inte kan beläggas eftersom ingen av dessa deklarationer avsåg att behandla frågan om suveränitet över ögruppen. (Less)
Abstract
Situated in the East China Sea lays a remotely located island group consisting of five small islands and three barren rocks. The islands sustain scarce vegetation and there’s most likely no fresh water on the islands. Due to their inhospitable character, the islands have historically been considered to be of little economic value and they have since ancient times, apart from a short period during the early 20th century, been uninhabited. The island group is known in Chinese as Diaoyu and in Japanese as Senkaku and since 1971, Japan, the PRC and the ROC all claim sovereignty over the islands. The dispute arouse as a consequence of a UN sponsored survey in 1968, which suggested that large oil and gas deposits might be located in the vicinity... (More)
Situated in the East China Sea lays a remotely located island group consisting of five small islands and three barren rocks. The islands sustain scarce vegetation and there’s most likely no fresh water on the islands. Due to their inhospitable character, the islands have historically been considered to be of little economic value and they have since ancient times, apart from a short period during the early 20th century, been uninhabited. The island group is known in Chinese as Diaoyu and in Japanese as Senkaku and since 1971, Japan, the PRC and the ROC all claim sovereignty over the islands. The dispute arouse as a consequence of a UN sponsored survey in 1968, which suggested that large oil and gas deposits might be located in the vicinity of the islands. Although the present dispute emerged as a consequence of the oil discovery, the potential economic benefits are far from the only reason why the dispute remains alive today. The main reason why tensions keep re-erupting relates to Chinese and Japanese nationalism, which continue to impede on any possible solution. Today, Japan is in de facto control over the islands, which she has been since 1972 when the US reverted the administrative powers it had acquired following the end of World War II. This control is additionally strengthened by the mutual defense treaty between the US and Japan which covers the disputed islands.

The Japanese sovereignty claim is based on occupation, which is one of the established modes of territorial acquisition. Japan claims to have discovered the islands in 1885 and after ten years of investigation regarding the status of the islands, decided to incorporate them in 1895. Japan further claims to have maintained sovereign title to the islands ever since and the islands weren’t an integral part of neither the Treaty of Shimonoseki nor the declarations signed during and shortly after the end of World War II (the Wartime declarations). Treaty law is therefore irrelevant to the sovereignty issue, according to the Japanese stance. The stances by the PRC and the ROC are fundamentally the same since they share a common history. The stances deviate only in relation to events that occurred after 1949. The Chinese stance is also based on the mode of occupation, they claim to have discovered and named the islands prior or during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and then treated the islands in accordance with the international law requirements of occupation until the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki on April 17, 1895, through which the islands were ceded to Japan. According to the Chinese stance, the islands were lawfully Japanese from 1895 until 1945 when Japan formally surrendered. This document of surrender incorporated two other Wartime declarations, which obliged Japan to return sovereignty of the islands to China, according to the Chinese stance.

Should a court or tribunal ever adjudicate the present dispute, the adjudicating body would have to decide on a number of legal issues that are both case-specific and of general interest to the international law discipline. One such issue, and arguably the most controversial feature of this paper, relates to the applicability of the international law rules of territorial acquisition in non-western parts of the world, which historically have been governed by a different system of international relations and different notions of sovereignty. Since Chinese scholars have contended that international law cannot appropriately adjudicate the present dispute since East Asia is founded on different ideas of international relations, this paper introduced an alternative framework which was analyzed parallel to the international law requirements of occupation.

Although this paper was written from a perspective similar to that of a court or tribunal, the purpose of the paper wasn’t to decisively adjudicate the present dispute and determine which claimant has the better claim to sovereignty. Having stated this, the author is of the opinion that, based on the historical data presented in this paper together with the linguistic interpretations accepted in this paper, Japan appears to have a stronger claim. The strength of the Japanese claim is primarily derived from the second branch of intertemporal principle, which, in cases of territorial acquisition, favors the state that, at the critical date, fulfills the requirement of “actual, continuous and peaceful display of state functions in regard to the territory”. The Japanese control during 1895-1952 appears to have been sufficient and the US administration, 1952-1972, didn’t aim to affect the underlying sovereignty and therefore, Japan maintained residual sovereignty.

The Japanese claim is additionally strengthened by the fact that they appear to have the stronger argument in relation to every enclasping legal issue discussed throughout the paper. The first such issue discussed was whether China ever acquired sovereignty. The difficulty of this analysis is that the international law requirements of occupation during the relevant time haven’t been sufficiently established. The author is of the opinion that a conservative approach, wherein mere visual discovery isn’t enough to establish sovereign title, is more reasonable and therefore, China has a weak case under international law. However, should the political realties of East Asia be taken into account in this evaluation, China has a stronger case. The second issue discussed was through which mode Japan acquired sovereignty. Regarding this matter the author is of the opinion that it cannot be deduced from the Treaty of Shimonoseki that the disputed islands where an integral part. Moreover the Japanese process of incorporation, as deceitful as it may have been, can hardly make the incorporation invalid. The third issue discussed was whether the Wartime declarations obliged Japan to return the islands to China and therefore made them lawfully Chinese. Regarding this matter, the author is of the opinion that such a stance cannot be supported since neither of these declarations where meant to deal with sovereignty of the islands. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Berg, Victor LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM02 20142
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Public International Law, Senkaku, Diaoyu, Sovereignty, Folkrätt
language
English
id
4905416
date added to LUP
2015-04-27 09:03:50
date last changed
2015-04-27 09:03:50
@misc{4905416,
  abstract     = {Situated in the East China Sea lays a remotely located island group consisting of five small islands and three barren rocks. The islands sustain scarce vegetation and there’s most likely no fresh water on the islands. Due to their inhospitable character, the islands have historically been considered to be of little economic value and they have since ancient times, apart from a short period during the early 20th century, been uninhabited. The island group is known in Chinese as Diaoyu and in Japanese as Senkaku and since 1971, Japan, the PRC and the ROC all claim sovereignty over the islands. The dispute arouse as a consequence of a UN sponsored survey in 1968, which suggested that large oil and gas deposits might be located in the vicinity of the islands. Although the present dispute emerged as a consequence of the oil discovery, the potential economic benefits are far from the only reason why the dispute remains alive today. The main reason why tensions keep re-erupting relates to Chinese and Japanese nationalism, which continue to impede on any possible solution. Today, Japan is in de facto control over the islands, which she has been since 1972 when the US reverted the administrative powers it had acquired following the end of World War II. This control is additionally strengthened by the mutual defense treaty between the US and Japan which covers the disputed islands. 

The Japanese sovereignty claim is based on occupation, which is one of the established modes of territorial acquisition. Japan claims to have discovered the islands in 1885 and after ten years of investigation regarding the status of the islands, decided to incorporate them in 1895. Japan further claims to have maintained sovereign title to the islands ever since and the islands weren’t an integral part of neither the Treaty of Shimonoseki nor the declarations signed during and shortly after the end of World War II (the Wartime declarations). Treaty law is therefore irrelevant to the sovereignty issue, according to the Japanese stance. The stances by the PRC and the ROC are fundamentally the same since they share a common history. The stances deviate only in relation to events that occurred after 1949. The Chinese stance is also based on the mode of occupation, they claim to have discovered and named the islands prior or during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and then treated the islands in accordance with the international law requirements of occupation until the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki on April 17, 1895, through which the islands were ceded to Japan. According to the Chinese stance, the islands were lawfully Japanese from 1895 until 1945 when Japan formally surrendered. This document of surrender incorporated two other Wartime declarations, which obliged Japan to return sovereignty of the islands to China, according to the Chinese stance. 

Should a court or tribunal ever adjudicate the present dispute, the adjudicating body would have to decide on a number of legal issues that are both case-specific and of general interest to the international law discipline. One such issue, and arguably the most controversial feature of this paper, relates to the applicability of the international law rules of territorial acquisition in non-western parts of the world, which historically have been governed by a different system of international relations and different notions of sovereignty. Since Chinese scholars have contended that international law cannot appropriately adjudicate the present dispute since East Asia is founded on different ideas of international relations, this paper introduced an alternative framework which was analyzed parallel to the international law requirements of occupation. 

Although this paper was written from a perspective similar to that of a court or tribunal, the purpose of the paper wasn’t to decisively adjudicate the present dispute and determine which claimant has the better claim to sovereignty. Having stated this, the author is of the opinion that, based on the historical data presented in this paper together with the linguistic interpretations accepted in this paper, Japan appears to have a stronger claim. The strength of the Japanese claim is primarily derived from the second branch of intertemporal principle, which, in cases of territorial acquisition, favors the state that, at the critical date, fulfills the requirement of “actual, continuous and peaceful display of state functions in regard to the territory”. The Japanese control during 1895-1952 appears to have been sufficient and the US administration, 1952-1972, didn’t aim to affect the underlying sovereignty and therefore, Japan maintained residual sovereignty. 

The Japanese claim is additionally strengthened by the fact that they appear to have the stronger argument in relation to every enclasping legal issue discussed throughout the paper. The first such issue discussed was whether China ever acquired sovereignty. The difficulty of this analysis is that the international law requirements of occupation during the relevant time haven’t been sufficiently established. The author is of the opinion that a conservative approach, wherein mere visual discovery isn’t enough to establish sovereign title, is more reasonable and therefore, China has a weak case under international law. However, should the political realties of East Asia be taken into account in this evaluation, China has a stronger case. The second issue discussed was through which mode Japan acquired sovereignty. Regarding this matter the author is of the opinion that it cannot be deduced from the Treaty of Shimonoseki that the disputed islands where an integral part. Moreover the Japanese process of incorporation, as deceitful as it may have been, can hardly make the incorporation invalid. The third issue discussed was whether the Wartime declarations obliged Japan to return the islands to China and therefore made them lawfully Chinese. Regarding this matter, the author is of the opinion that such a stance cannot be supported since neither of these declarations where meant to deal with sovereignty of the islands.},
  author       = {Berg, Victor},
  keyword      = {Public International Law,Senkaku,Diaoyu,Sovereignty,Folkrätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Sovereignty over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands},
  year         = {2014},
}