by Liu Tian, Liu Xiuling, Feng Wuyong
TOKYO, April 14 (Xinhua) -- Japan has recently intensified its propaganda to claim several uninhabited islands disputed with its neighbor in the East China Sea, but a Japanese historian refuted the claim and questioned Tokyo's reliability since it has manipulated evidence to mislead the rest of the world on the territorial issue.
Tadayoshi Murata, an honorary professor at Japan's Yokohama National University, by citing Japanese official documents detailed in his new book "Historical Documents Testify the ' Sovereignty of Senkaku'," describes how the Japanese government illegally occupied the Chinese Diaoyu Islands step by step in the 1890s.
"Actually, the Japanese government had been aware of the relations between the Qing dynasty and the islands in 1885, and, therefore, it suspended plans to erect a national border marker for this very reason as senior officials were concerned that if they continued to do so, it would possibly trigger diplomatic conflict with the Qing dynasty," Murata told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.
According to the professor's book, Japanese official documents showed that then Okinawa Governor Sutezou Nishimura was reluctant to follow then Home Minister Aritomo Yamagata's order to erect territorial markers on the uninhabited islands as the governor recognized the connections the islands had with China after his research.
Nishimura reported his research to Yamagata. The then home minister, who insisted the islands had no connection with the Qing dynasty but also worried about causing possible diplomatic problems, handed Nishimura's report and his own viewpoint to then Foreign Minister Kaoru Inoue on Oct. 9, 1885, to let the top diplomat make a decision.
Inoue made his decision in his reply to Yamagata on Oct. 21, 1885 that "there are rumors recently circulated by Qing newspapers and others, including one that says our government is going to occupy the islands in the vicinity of Taiwan that belongs to the Qing Dynasty, which are arousing their suspicions towards our country and frequently alerting the Qing government's caution."
"If we took measures such as publicly erecting national markers, it would result in making the Qing dynasty suspicious. Therefore, we should have the islands surveyed and details -- such as the configuration of harbors and the prospect of land development and local production -- reported and stop there. We should deal with the erecting of national markers, land development and other undertakings some other day," Inoue added in the reply.
The true history facts clearly showed that Inoue rejected Yamagata's requests to continue erecting markers on the islands. However, Murata said the facts have been manipulated by the Japanese Foreign Ministry on its website introducing Japan's position on the disputed islands through transposing time order, which he called a very "dishonest" trick played by the government aimed at misleading others.
On the Foreign Ministry's website, the ministry puts Yamagata's opinion in his inquiry to Inoue on Oct. 9, 1885 that surveys on the islands "showed no particular trace of having been under the control of the Qing Dynasty... therefore, there should be no problem with the prefecture (Okinawa) surveying them and erecting national markers on them," below Inoue's reply on Oct. 21, 1885, providing a misleading impression that Yamagata's position was the then Japanese government's final viewpoint on the issue.
Furthermore, Murata said that the Japanese government tries to block all access to the truth of the territorial dispute. "A journalist with Japan's Kyodo News Agency found that then Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki affirmed in 1982 in Tokyo with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that Japan and China reached a consensus on 'shelving the dispute' over the islands, but the Foreign Ministry denied the consensus in its reply to media inquiry," the professor said.
"I myself was also told by the ministry that it will possibly take a 10-month censoring to decide whether it would provide the Suzuki-Thatcher minutes after I applied to check the document," the historian recalled, adding "I then turned to lawmakers for help as they have the rights to view the documents with application."
"The lawmakers' requests were also rejected, but, the rejection was from the Chinese desk in the ministry, rather than the European desk which was in charge of recording the Japan-British summit," Murata said.
The professor said in his new book that Japan stole the Diaoyu Islands from China during the first Sino-Japanese War since the government realized that the "some other day" called for by Inoue finally came after it took the upper hand on the battlefield. "The islands were stolen by the Japanese government in line with the victory of the war, but the move was abided neither by the international laws nor Japan's domestic laws," Murata told Xinhua.
He also stressed on a different occasion with Xinhua that Japan returned Taiwan to China in line with the Potsdam Proclamation, so it should also return the Diaoyu Islands to China based on the world-recognized statement. "The San Francisco Peace Treaty with Japan excludes China, and, therefore, it is powerless compared to the Potsdam Proclamation to determine the sovereignty of the islands," he said.
However, Japan's popular book review columns, even those zealously highlighting Japan-China ties, run by major media, collectively turned a blind eye to Murata's new work that could help shed new honest light on the original "shelving dispute" situation between Japan and China and help the Japanese people acquire a basic knowledge of the territorial dispute.
The professor stressed that the Japanese government's demand of including its official stance over the territorial disputes in its textbooks will only result in cultivating students who lack an independent spirit capable of questioning the government's opinion, adding the majority of the population here should not be fooled by a group of people who are trying to use territorial disputes to provoke nationalism.
"Scholars should pay more respect to historical facts so as to pursue the truth and to create a friendly, peaceful and rational atmosphere between Japan and China," Murata concluded.