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About the Senkaku Islands

The Senkaku Islands

The Senkaku Islands is the collective term that refers to a group of islands in the East China Sea that includes Uotsuri Island, Minamikojima, Kitakojima, Kuba Island, Taisho Island, Okinokitaiwa, Okinominamiiwa, and Tobise.

Administratively, the Senkaku Islands are a part of Ishigaki City, Okinawa Prefecture, and the largest island, Uotsuri, is located approximately 170 km northwest of Ishigaki Island.

From 1885 onwards, the Japanese government, acting through the authorities of Okinawa Prefecture, and by other means, conducted repeated field surveys of the Senkaku Islands and in the process carefully confirmed that the islands were not only uninhabited, but also not under the control of any nation, including Qing Dynasty China. A decision was made by the Cabinet on January 14, 1895, with the effect that the islands were officially incorporated into the territory of Japan. This act was consistent with the way in which territory is rightfully acquired under international law (occupation of terra nullius).

Since ancient times, in the Yaeyama region (comprising Ishigaki City, Taketomi Town, and Yonaguni Town, Okinawa Prefecture) the Senkaku Islands have been called “IgunKubajima” and the surrounding ocean area has been known by fishers as a good fishing ground. From the Meiji period (1868-1912) to the early Showa period (late 1920s) various businesses were conducted there, including the collection of bird feathers and the production of dried bonito. When business was at its peak, a total of 248 people in 99 households lived and worked on Uotsuri and Kuba islands.

The name of the Senkaku Islands was coined by Hisashi Kuroiwa, a natural history and agriculture teacher at Okinawa Prefecture Normal School. It is said to originate from the fact that Kitakojima and Minamikojimaislands are both towering and pointed in shape. In 1900 Hisashi Kuroiwalanded on Uotsuri Island, and drew a geological map, depicting the exposed rock of the volcanic islands.