China Researcher wants Reason for Okinawa Sovereignty
Li Guoqiang, a researcher who has attracted controversy by arguing that the sovereignty of Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture remains unsettled, has called on the Japanese government to explain its grounds for its sovereignty claim over the island prefecture.
Li, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in an interview with Jiji Press, that it is a fact that Ryukyu, the former name of Okinawa, has already become part of Japan more than 130 years after Japan’s annexation by force in 1879.
He added that China and Japan have reached no conclusion over the issue of Ryukyu at the time and that the issue remains historically unresolved. If Japan claims legitimate sovereignty, it should explain what that is based on, he said.
Referring to an article he and another Chinese researcher wrote for the People’s Daily, a Communist Party of China newspaper in May, Li said that its purpose was not to discuss the Ryukyu issue but to clarify China’s sovereignty over the Senkaku islands, part of the southernmost Japan prefecture of Okinawa. China claims the East China Sea islands as its own and calls them Diaoyu. The article said that the sovereignty of Okinawa remains unresolved and that the time has come to discuss the issue again.
He said he is calling for respect of history, not agitating Okinawa’s independence or China’s recapturing of the Japanese prefecture.
Li criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for having repeatedly made irresponsible remarks about Diaoyu and history issues, which denied historical facts and are unacceptable for Li as a researcher. He said the people’s Daily article is a response to the wrong view shown by Abe. A protest lodged by the Japanese government against the article was unexpected and very hard to understand, Li said.
He said Abe needs to explain Japan’s stance to the international community as Tokyo has clarified neither legal nor historical grounds about its sovereignty claim over Okinawa. According to Li, he and Zhang Haipeng, also a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, wrote the article in March to meet a request from the People’s Daily following Japan nationalization of three of the five Senkaku islands last September.