Honor the post­war or­der Com­mit­ments Ja­pan made when it ac­cepted the pro­vi­sions of the Cairo and Pots­dam dec­la­ra­tions must be fulfi lled

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - | GAO HONG The au­thor is deputy di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute of Ja­panese Stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.

On Dec 1, 1943, China, the United States and Bri­tain jointly is­sued the Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion, which ex­plic­itly states “that Ja­pan shall be stripped of all the is­lands in the Pa­cific which she has seized or oc­cu­pied since the be­gin­ning of the First World War in 1914, and that all the ter­ri­to­ries Ja­pan has stolen from the Chi­nese, such as Manchuria, For­mosa, and The Pescadores, shall be re­stored to the Repub­lic of China”. Manchuria, For­mosa and The Pescadores stand re­spec­tively for present-day China’s North­east, Tai­wan and the Penghu Is­lands.

The dec­la­ra­tion also de­manded Ja­pan be ex­pelled from all other ter­ri­to­ries it had taken by vi­o­lence and greed.

The land­mark doc­u­ment not only shows the Al­lied pow­ers’ com­mon will and unity to stop and pun­ish Ja­panese ag­gres­sion, it also serves as the foun­da­tion of the ter­ri­to­rial ar­range­ment and re­gional peace or­der in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion af­ter World War II. There­fore, com­mem­o­rat­ing the 70th an­niver­sary of the Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion has pro­found and far-reach­ing sig­nif­i­cance to­day.

On July 26, 1945, the Pots­dam Dec­la­ra­tion, is­sued by China, the US and Bri­tain, reaf­firmed that: “The terms of the Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion shall be car­ried out and Ja­panese sovereignty shall be lim­ited to the is­lands of Hon­shu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such mi­nor is­lands as we de­ter­mine.” In Septem­ber 1945, Ja­pan ac­cepted the Pots­dam Dec­la­ra­tion in ex­plicit terms with the Ja­panese In­stru­ment of Sur­ren­der, “act­ing by com­mand of and in be­half of the Em­peror of Ja­pan, the Ja­panese Gov­ern­ment and the Ja­panese Im­pe­rial Gen­eral Head­quar­ters, hereby ac­cept the pro­vi­sions set forth in the dec­la­ra­tion is­sued by the heads of the Gov­ern­ments of the United States, China and Great Bri­tain on 26 July 1945, at Pots­dam”, and pledged to faith­fully ful­fill the obli­ga­tions set out in the two doc­u­ments.

The Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion, to­gether with the Pots­dam Dec­la­ra­tion are the fun­da­men­tal sources of a se­ries of in­ter­na­tional laws. The au­thor­ity of the Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion is con­clu­sive and any moves to defy it will desta­bi­lize the foun­da­tion and le­git­i­macy of to­day’s in­ter­na­tional or­der.

How­ever, some stri­dent Ja­panese right-wing forces and na­tion­al­ists are tak­ing pains to ques­tion the ex­is­tence and le­gal va­lid­ity of the Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion and are at­tempt­ing to use the invalid San Fran­cisco Peace Treaty to off­set or re­place the Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion.

Ja­pan’s at­tempts to cast doubts on the le­gal im­pli­ca­tions of the Pots­dam Dec­la­ra­tion are ground­less. From the point of view of the source of law, the Pots­dam Dec­la­ra­tion was the suc­ces­sor of the Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion, as it ex­plic­itly stated that the terms of the Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion shall be car­ried out.

The Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion not only de­ter­mined Ja­pan’s post­war ter­ri­to­rial bound­aries, it also sought to end Ja­pan’s im­pe­ri­al­ism and mil­i­tarism. The Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion has bind­ing force stemming from his­tor­i­cal le­git­i­macy. The Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion is the source in law of Ja­pan’s In­stru­ment of Sur­ren­der, and Ar­ti­cle 98 of the Con­sti­tu­tion of Ja­pan ex­plic­itly stip­u­lates that the treaties con­cluded by Ja­pan and es­tab­lished laws of na­tions shall be faith­fully ob­served.

As China marks the 70th an­niver­sary of the Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion, the doc­u­ment is still of great sig­nif­i­cance, as not only does it iden­tify China’s own­er­ship of Tai­wan and its af­fil­i­ated is­lands, in­clud­ing the Diaoyu Is­lands, there­fore serv­ing as the le­gal guardian for China to safe­guard the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Is­lands, it is also a land­mark doc­u­ment that rec­og­nizes the Chi­nese na­tion’s awak­en­ing and strug­gle to vic­tory in WWII.

To­day, China is seek­ing to build a new type of re­la­tions be­tween ma­jor pow­ers and en­gag­ing in pe­riph­ery diplo­macy to strengthen re­la­tions with its neigh­bors. The spirit and prin­ci­ples of the Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion should be de­fended and prac­ticed with the pur­pose of main­tain­ing world peace and de­vel­op­ment. There­fore, China has been urg­ing the Ja­panese to face up to his­tory and faith­fully honor the com­mit­ments it made at the end of WWII. China also hopes that the ma­jor pow­ers set­ting the goals for the post­war world or­der can re­spon­si­bly abide by the terms of the Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion and en­sure its im­ple­men­ta­tion.

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe and his gov­ern­ment seek to turn back the clock and re­gain what they see as Ja­pan’s pow­er­ful na­tion­hood, and are try­ing to build up its mil­i­tary mus­cle again. But to speed up its mil­i­tary buildup, Ja­pan must first re­vise its paci­fist Con­sti­tu­tion. So to over­turn and deny the in­ter­na­tional verdict on its ag­gres­sive and mil­i­tarist past Ja­pan is openly dis­tort­ing his­tory. The provoca­tive re­marks and ac­tions of Ja­pan’s ul­tra-con­ser­va­tive group should serve as a wake-up call to the world.

The Ja­panese gov­ern­ment’s in­tran­si­gent stance that there is no dis­pute over the Diaoyu Is­lands and its de­nial of other his­tor­i­cal truths have se­ri­ously dam­aged Sino-Ja­panese re­la­tions. The crux of the prob­lem is the two-faced tac­tics be­ing em­ployed by Abe and his cab­i­net in its pol­icy to­ward China place con­straints on China’s en­deav­ors to main­tain and pro­mote friendly ties. Ja­pan must change its stance if re­la­tions are to get back on track.

To im­prove bi­lat­eral re­la­tions and pre­vent the good feel­ings be­tween the two peo­ples from fad­ing away has be­come an ur­gent task.

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