China takes Japan to task over island lease

  • AseanPlus News
  • Sunday, 05 Jan 2003

BEIJING: China has summoned an official from the Japanese embassy here to express “strong dissatisfaction” over Japan’s reported leasing of three disputed isles in the East China Sea, state media said yesterday. 

A senior Chinese foreign ministry official on Friday urgently summoned the unnamed Japanese envoy over the move, which Beijing said “harmed” China’s territorial sovereignty, the China Daily said. 

The Chinese official outlined China’s “solemn and just stance” regarding how the Japanese government leased from “a private owner” three uninhabited islands of the Diaoyu Dao islands for a year, China Daily said. 

The Chinese official said the Diaoyu Dao and adjacent islets have been an integral part of China since ancient times, according to the report. 

Any unilateral action by Japan over the Diaoyu Dao was invalid, he said. 

Japan’s move is seen as an attempt by Tokyo to strengthen its control over the island chain, which is claimed by Japan and China as well as Taiwan. 

China on Thursday blasted as “invalid” the leasing of the isles. 

Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said on Wednesday the Japanese government in October signed a contract to lease the uninhabited islands for a year from the owner, an unidentified man living outside Okinawa Prefecture, according to the daily. 

Japan declared the islands its own territory in 1895 and the islands were temporarily put under US control after World War II, but were returned to Japanese rule in 1972 together with Okinawa. 

The dispute came to the fore in the early 1970s, when China and Taiwan made their claims to the islands after oil deposits were confirmed in the area by a United Nations agency.  

Japanese embassy officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.– AFP  

  • Another perspective from The China Daily, a partner of Asia News Network. 

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