CIA REPORT BACKS JAPAN
China and Japan are locked in a heated dispute over the Senkaku Islands, a group of uninhabited islets said to contain large undersea reserves of gas and oil.
Japan has claimed the islands since the end of World War II, but China claims them as the Diaoyu.
The dispute heightened a year ago after Tokyo purchased several of the islands from private Japanese owners in an attempt to settle the dispute. Instead, the Chinese government set off nationalist anti-Japan riots.
In November, tensions increased after China declared an air defense identification zone covering the islands. Japan, South Korea and the United States said they do not recognize the Chinese zone.
A declassified CIA intelligence report from May 1971 — “The Senkaku Islands Dispute: Oil Under Troubled Waters?” — makes clear that the islands are Japanese.
The report stated that China’s claims to the islands date to the Ming dynasty as early as 1403. The CIA then said the Senkakus are part of Japan’s Ryuku Islands, which have been Japanese for centuries.
“In contrast, it is likely that the earliest Japanese references to the islets were made sometime in the late 19th Century,” the report said. “Japanese involvement with the Ryukus, however, is dated from around 1166, the year of the first king of Okinawa, whose father was a Japanese nobleman in exile.”
Former State Department China analyst John Tkacik said the CIA report, declassified in 2007, is a “pretty conclusive assessment.”
“The Senkakus are, and always were, Japanese, and Taiwan historical claims were fabrications,” he said.
Contact Bill Gertz at @BillGertz.