BEIJING--As if the dispute between Beijing and Tokyo over sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands was not enough controversy, the Chinese Communist Party's flagship newspaper has raised questions about Japan's rights to the island of Okinawa.
An article titled "Discussions on Treaty of Maguan (Shimonoseki) and Diaoyu (Senkaku) Islands" was published in the People's Daily on May 8.
It states: "History's unresolved questions relating to the Ryukyu (Okinawa) have reached a time for reconsideration," denying Japan's longstanding sovereignty over Okinawa.
Some experts believe the article was published to exert more pressure on Japan. China has already claimed rights to the Senkakus in the East China Sea and repeatedly trespassed in Japan's waters near the islands.
One of the authors, Zhang Haipeng, is a scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He argues that Japan robbed China of Taiwan and its affiliated islands, including the Senkakus, the Pescadores and Okinawa, when the two nations concluded the Treaty of Shimonoseki following the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895).
He writes that the Senkaku Islands were returned to China after World War II ended in 1945, but the issue of sovereignty of Okinawa has yet to be resolved.
A Chinese government official also indicated the country may have rights to Okinawa.
"The history of Ryukyu and Okinawa is a problem that the academic society has long been paying close attention to," said Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, when asked about Japan's sovereignty over Okinawa during a May 8 news conference.
In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan will not accept China’s claim to rights over Okinawa.
“If the article represents the stance of the Chinese government, we can never accept that,” Suga told a news conference on May 9.
He also said Japan voiced its protest against the article to the Chinese government on May 8. The official response from Chinese officials, according to Suga, was “the researchers have written the article in their private capacities.”
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