US-Japan treaty does not affect Tiaoyutais claims: MOFA

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

The China Post–A United States-Japan security treaty that puts the Tiaoyutai Islands under Japanese government control will not affect Taiwan’s sovereignty claim, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday. The U.S.’s stance of putting the Tiaoyutai Islands within the scope of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security is “understandable,” Bruce Linghu, director-general of MOFA’s Department of North American Affairs, said at a regular news briefing yesterday. “But the Republic of China government stands firm that the Tiaoyutais belong to us, and both the U.S. and Japan are fully aware of our position,” Linghu noted. Linghu’s remark came amid a series of recent disputes between Taiwan, Japan and China over the Tiaoyutais. The Tiaoyutai Islands are known as the Diaoyutai Islands in China and the Senkaku Islands in Japan, which have claimed sovereignty over the disputed island chain. Concerns, however, have risen over whether the U.S. would side with Japan on the issue after a senior U.S. State Department official was quoted by Japanese media Monday saying that the islands fall under the scope of the 1960 Japan-U.S. security treaty under which America is required to defend Japan if it is attacked. Article 5 of the treaty mandates that “each Party recognizes that an armed attack against either Party in the territories under the administration of Japan would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional provisions and processes.” Japan claims the Tiaoyutais are part of its territory since the islands were returned to Japan as part of the reversion of Okinawa in 1972. Asked to comment, Linghu said the Taiwan government has been protesting Japan’s sovereignty claim of the islands since the 1970s and the government’s stance has not changed over the years. Speaking at the same press conference, Steve Hsia, the ministry’s spokesman noted that the U.S. does not have a position on the question of the ultimate sovereignty of the islands, even though the U.S.-Japan treaty covers the Tiaoyutais.

Hsia noted that the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the U.S. and Japan is aimed at “securing regional peace” but did not dwell on the sovereignty of the Tiaoyutais.