When the United States reverted the control of the Ryukyu Islands to Japan in 1972, it also transferred the administration of the Tiaoyutai Islands to the Japanese.
The move, which seemed like a great favor from the United States, has since proven to be a nightmarish curse.
The U.S. decision raises at least two questions.
First, as a mandatory power, America certainly did not hold sovereignty over the Tiaoyutais, which are known as the Senkakus in Japan. Why did the U.S. government not return the island chain to its original owner instead of handing it over to Japan?
Second, there is no doubt that the Tiaoyutais are affiliated to Taiwan geographically. The United States had no reason to bundle them with the Ryukyu Islands.
The ill-considered move by the United States has left an unhealable wound between China and Japan, adding to Chinese hatred against Japan that traces its roots to Japanese aggression in the 1930s.
In addition, the Tiaoyutai issue has become a political nerve between Taiwan and China.
Now, Japan can neither spit out the stolen territory nor swallow it. China, on the other hand, has highlighted its sovereignty claim over Taiwan using the Tiaoyutai issue, while Taiwan has to find a way to balance its relationship with the United States, Japan, China and domestic political forces.
As seen in recent developments, Japan dared not block a group of Hong Kong activists from landing on the islands and lacked the ability to bar domestic right-wing politicians from doing so.
Meanwhile, anti-Japan protests have erupted around China, and the United States is conducting joint military exercises with Japan as part of military cooperation between the two sides.
The intensifying regional tensions have fully exposed the unreasonableness and lack of foresight of the 1972 decision by the United States. (Editorial abstract -- Aug. 24, 2012)
(By Y.F. Low)