Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi considers “absolutely unacceptable” the words of his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the territorial affiliation of the Senkaku Islands during their joint conference earlier this week.
“The Senkaku Islands are without a doubt our integral territory historically and according to international law,” Motegi was quoted as saying by Kyodo News Agency.
The Japanese Foreign Minister’s comment came in response to criticism from some members of the ruling party that Motegi did not take any action during the press conference after Wang Yi’s words. According to the agreed Protocol of the event, each of the Ministers could speak only once, and Motegi spoke first, Kyodo notes.
The Japanese Foreign Minister stressed that after the joint press conference, he “once again asked” the Chinese side not to take actions that cause uncertainty about the Islands’ territorial affiliation.
The Senkaku Islands are the subject of a territorial dispute between China and Japan. Japan claims to have occupied them since 1895, while Beijing recalls that the Senkaku is designated as Chinese territory on Japanese maps from 1783 and 1785. After World War II, the Islands were under US control and were ceded to Japan in 1972. In Taiwan and mainland China, it is believed that Japan is holding them illegally. Tokyo believes that China and Taiwan have been claiming the Islands since the 1970s when it became clear that its waters are rich in minerals. The territorial dispute escalated further after the Japanese government bought three of the five Islands of the Senkaku archipelago from a private Japanese owner in 2012, thus emphasizing their state status.