by Yan Lei, Liu Xiuling
TOKYO, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Government archives and historical materials show that Japan admitted both publicly and in government documents in the 1920s and 1930s that the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea belong to China, said Zhu Jianrong, a professor of international relations at Toyo Gakuen University in Tokyo, Japan.
Meanwhile, there is also evidence showing that Japan knew all along there had been Chinese fishermen living on the Nansha Islands in the early 20th century, a strong support for China's claim of the islands, said the professor.
These government archives and historical records show that Japan has known all along that the Xisha Islands and the Nansha Islands belong to China, and raising questions as to why Japan acted as if it did not know about the truth and meddled in the South China Sea issue, said Zhu.
In 1933, France invaded nine isles of the Nansha Islands. Newspapers at that time mistakenly reported that France seized the Xisha Islands. The then Chinese government immediately made a statement that the Xisha Islands belong to China. The incident also attracted Japan's attention.
According to a document stored in the Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the then Japanese consul general in China's Nanjing sent a telegram on July 19, 1933, to the Japanese foreign ministry, saying that "the nine isles seized by France as reported by newspapers are part of China's Xisha Islands," and required the Japanese government to pay attention.
After Japan learnt that the islands France seized at that time were part of the Nansha Islands, the Yomiuri Shimbun, one of the most widely read national newspapers in Japan, published an article on July 21, 1933, which cited a report sent by the then Japanese ambassador to France Nagaoka to Japan's foreign ministry.
In the report, Nagaoka said that there had always been Chinese people living on Zhongye Island in the Nansha Islands, while on one of the nine isles seized by France, there were also signs of Chinese people living there before.
Zhu also found some government archives which showed that the Japanese government recognized that the Xisha Islands belong to China.
In 1938, the French Indochina authorities invaded the Xisha Islands. The evening issue of the Yomiuri Shimbun on July 8, 1938, published a report on the front page titled "Japan lodged protest with France, Xisha Islands obviously belong to China."
The report described in detail how Japan's Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Horiuchi summoned the French ambassador to Japan and requested France to withdraw from the Xisha Islands, saying that the islands are "definitely" part of Chinese territory.
The report also cited the Japanese government and described two incidents attesting that the Xisha Islands belong to China. Firstly, a high-ranking official in charge of the French Indochina navy in the South China Sea told a Japanese firm in 1920 that the islands were not French territory. Secondly, a high-profile Chinese official in charge of civil affairs of China's Guangdong province issued a public notice in 1921, saying that the Xisha Islands shall be administered by the government's civil administration department's branch on Hainan Island, which went uncontested.
"Japan admitted that the Nansha and the Xisha Islands belong to China not out of kindness, but because it also schemed to seize these islands itself and did not want France to achieve preemption rights of the islands," said the professor.
Later in its brutal war of aggression against China, Japan illegally occupied the Nansha Islands and the Xisha Islands. China recovered and resumed the exercise of sovereignty over these islands after the end of WWII.