The Taiwan Factor in Tokyo’s Territorial Disputes with Beijing

  • Peter Yu
  • Shawn Kao


In this chapter we will first identify five disputed areas that offer a microcosm of the relations between Tokyo, Taipei, and Beijing. In the first section, we will touch on Japan’s options over the last sixty-plus years in resolving territorial disputes with its neighbors. The issues not basically related to both Taipei and Beijing will be first described and explained in brief. Second, we will narrow it down, from the Japanese perspective, to the disputes over the Diaoyutai/Senkaku Islands.1 We will also explain why there is not much to say from the Japanese perspective regarding Okinotorishima Islet and a major portion of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf in the East China Sea (ECS). The third section has three sub-sections, and the main focus of each is on the period after the drastic change in Taiwan’s political landscape in May 2000, when Chen Shui-bian, the separatist politician, became President. Each of the three scenarios follows a different assumption. The first subsection assumes that Taipei is siding with Tokyo. In that context, we will describe and explain how Tokyo’s options will affect its relations with Beijing. In the second subsection we assume that Taipei is on Beijing’s side. In the second subsection we assume that Taipei is on Beijing’s side. In this context, one can figure out what kind of options Japan would choose and the probable consequences.


Continental Shelf Exclusive Economic Zone Coast Guard Territorial Dispute Taiwan Area 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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    Douglas M. Johnston observes that there are eleven diplomatic options regarding maritime delimitation: do-nothing policy, agreement to disagree, agreement to designate, agreement to consult, agreement on access, preliminary joint enterprise, operational joint development, agreement on sharing of services, agreement on limited joint management arrangement, agreement on permanent joint management, final boundary treaty. Cited in Sun Pyo Kim, Maritime Delimitation and Interim Arrangements in North East Asia (Leiden: Brill Academic, 2004), 12, 23.Google Scholar
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    Beijing leaders constantly remind Japanese leaders not to go to the Shrine. What they have in mind is the following saying: Qianshi buwang houshi zhi shi (“If one remembers the lessons of the past, they will serve as a guide to avoiding mistakes in the future.”) In April 2004 the Fukuoka District Court ruled that the then Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine were tantamount to religious activity and, therefore, what he did had violated the Japanese Constitution. In September 2005, the Osaka High Court also ruled that Koizumi violated the constitutional separation of church and state. In October 2005, a Japanese court in another law suit ruled that Koizumi did not violate the Constitution. Up to now, only two out of ten cases found Koizumi to have violated the Constitution. In October 2005, Koizumi went to the Shrine for the fifth time since becoming Prime Minister in April 2001. In December 2005 Koizumi defended his visit by saying “I go there not to glorify the war, but to repent it, to vow never again to wage war, and also pay respects for the war dead.” See, December 13, 2005. In February 2006, Koizumi defended what he did again, saying Japan had not been isolated from other Asian countries because of his deeds and arguing that his visit was “a spiritual issue.” See, February 9, 2006. In November 2005, Republic of Korea (ROK) President Roh Moo-hyun urged Koizumi to stop visiting the shrine, which is a symbol of unrepentant Japanese militarism. But the latter defended himself by saying he was praying for peace there. See TT, November 20, 2005, p. 5. In March 2006, the ROK’s President, Roh Moo-huyn, said he would like to see the shrine for himself, and Koizumi said he would welcome his visit of the shrine. See China Post (hereafter CP)(Taipei), March 19, 2006, p. 11.
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    http://japanfocus.orf/article.asp?id=247. Due to the robust rise of the PRC, the New York Times (NYT) reported that Japan is seeking reconciliation with Russia. See CT, February 1, 2005.

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© James C. Hsiung 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Yu
  • Shawn Kao

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