In recent years, the Japanese government has been denying the dispute over sovereignty of Diaoyu Island, all while strengthening its own propaganda on the issue. A few days ago, the office of the Cabinet of Japan posted some data and graphics on its official website, claiming that Diaoyu Island is Japan's "inherent territory." However, the so-called proof offered by Japan is either self-deception that goes against history or a misinterpretation of China's stance. In order to eliminate its impact on China-Japan relations and enhance the friendship between the two peoples, it is necessary to refute Japan's evidence and clarify the facts.
I. The Japanese government acknowledged China's sovereignty over Diaoyu Island before the First Sino-Japanese War
The Japanese government has repeatedly claimed that Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands used to be uninhabited, and Japan did not claim sovereignty over the islands until it had confirmed that they were not under China's jurisdiction, in accordance with the "preemption doctrine." These claims are completely groundless.
First of all, although Diaoyu Island was uninhabited before Japan seized it in 1895, it was by no means unclaimed land. According to official historical records, starting from 1372, the fifth year of the reign of Emperor Hongwu of the Ming Dynasty, imperial title-conferring envoys used Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands as a navigation mark to sail to Ryukyu. The imperial courts of the Ming also sent troops, led by Zhang He and Wu Zhen, to protect the maritime route and incorporated these islands into their coastal defense. From the Qing Dynasty, the islands were placed under the jurisdiction of Gamalan, Taiwan (known as Yilan County today). Huang Shujing, the first imperial supervision envoy sent by the Qing court to Taiwan, once inspected Diaoyu Island and wrote about it in his report, "A Tour of Duty in the Taiwan Strait (Tai Hai Shi Cha Lu)."