The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday reasserted Taiwan’s sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in the disputed East China Sea, after the Japanese government expedited a plan to include Japan’s territorial claims over the island chain in its school curriculum.
The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology on Tuesday announced that it is moving up implementation of its “national territory education” curriculum from 2022 to next year, according to a Kyodo News report.
Japanese high-school students are to be taught about the legitimacy of Japan’s territorial claims over several disputed islands, including Diaoyutai, as well as islets in the Sea of Japan known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea.
“The government has maintained a consistent stance on the issue, which is that the Diaoyutai Islands are part of the Republic of China’s territory,” ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said in a press release.
The reality that Taiwan enjoys sovereignty over the archipelago is not going to be changed by any country’s decision to categorize it as their own territory in school textbooks, Lee said.
The Taiwanese government has always advocated for a peaceful solution to territorial disputes to avoid situations in which a concerned party’s unilateral actions lead to heightened tensions in the region, Lee said.
The Diaoyutais, about 120 nautical miles (222.2km) northeast of Taipei, are also claimed by China.
To prevent tensions in the region from escalating, then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in 2012 proposed the East China Sea peace initiative while visiting Pengjia Islet (彭佳嶼), about 56km north of Taiwan proper.
The initiative calls for all parties to take action to reduce tensions, abide by international law, ensure the freedom of navigation and overflight, and seek a peaceful resolution to disputes.
After taking office in 2016, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has adopted a similar approach, reiterating Taiwan’s sovereignty over Diaoyutais while calling for a peaceful resolution to territorial disputes.