14 Va. J. Int'l L. 221 (1973-1974)
The Sino-Japanese Dispute over the Tiao-yu-tai (Senkaku) Islands and the Law of Territorial Acquisition

handle is hein.journals/vajint14 and id is 231 raw text is: The Sino-Japanese Dispute Over the Tiao-yu-tai
(Senkaku) Islands and the Law of Territorial
Acquisition*
TAO CHENG**
I. INTRODUCTION
Since the summer of 1970, a dispute between China (both Peking and
Taipei) and Japan over the ownership of a few small, desolate islands in
the East China Sea has remained unresolved. In all probability, it will
present one of the most difficult problems in the projected peace-treaty
negotiations between the People's Republic of China and Japan.
The island group involved is known as the Tiao-yri-tai Islands in Chinese
and the Senkaku Islands in Japanese. It consists of eight small, uninha-
bited islands or rocks situated on the edge of the continental shelf in the
East China Sea (25 040' to 26 '00' N and 123 '25' to 123 °45' E). It may
actually be viewed as part of a short island chain extending from Taiwan
northeastward along the outer limit of the continental shelf through
Huap'ing Yii, Mien-hua Yfi, Pen-chia Yfi (Chinese territory not in dis-
pute), Tiao-yfin-tai, Huang-wei Yti, to Chih-wei Yii at its northeastern
end. The largest island in the group is the Tiao-yri-tai Island from which
the group acquired its Chinese name. Its area is less than one square mile.
(See Map 1.) Three of these islands are barren, while various tropical
plants grow on others.
In 1945, when action in the Pacific Theater of World War Il was coming
to a close, all of the Nansei Islands in the Japanese Empire (or the Ryukyu
Islands plus the surrounding areas in the East China Sea, including the
disputed islands) were occupied by U.S. forces. Later, they were included
in the United States Administrative Area under Article 3 of the San Fran-
cisco Peace Treaty of 1951. On May 15, 1972, as a result of the Okinawa
Reversion Treaty of June 17, 1971, the disputed islands of Nansei were
returned to Japanese control by the United States. The legal significance
of these historical events has been the subject of considerable debate.
In modern times, these islands have had very little economic or political
* The author wishes to express his gratitude to Mr. Stanley Y.C. Huang, Ph.D.candidate in
geography at Columbia and Mr. Yue-him Tam, Ph.D. candidate in Japanese history at
Princeton for their expert assistance in their specialized fields as well as in other areas. It
was their sustained efforts to help collect the materials on the subject here and abroad that
have made the present essay possible. The author would also like to express his gratitude to
Professor Shao-chuan Leng of the Department of Government and Foreign Affairs at the
University of Virginia for his assistance in the preparation of this article.
** Professor of Political Science, Trenton State College. B.A., 1946, National Peking Univer-
sity; M.A., 1951, Temple University; Ph.D., 1961, Columbia University.

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