Publication Date : 02-12-2013
The rightist apologists of Japan’s atrocious past and belligerent present find it a thorn in their side and wish the world would forget about its existence.
The China-hating politicians in Washington display collective amnesia when and where it gets in the way of demonising China.
But, like it or not, the Cairo Declaration, issued 70 years ago yesterday, remains the ultimate key to sorting out the convoluted territorial dispute between China and Japan.
Signed by the United States, China and Great Britain, and later fully endorsed by the then Soviet Union, the historic document has been the cornerstone and legal basis of post World War II international order in the Asia-Pacific. Which was why it was dubbed a Pacific equivalent to the Atlantic Charter.
It was the fountainhead of the legal framework for post-war Japan, which became increasingly specific through the subsequent Potsdam Declaration, the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, and finally Japan’s pacifist constitution, which the Abe administration is now trying desperately to revise.
In the Cairo Declaration, it was agreed that, “all the territories Japan has stolen from China, such as Manchuria, Formosa, and The Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China”. Manchuria, Formosa, and The Pescadores stand respectively for present-day China’s Northeast, Taiwan and the Penghu Islands. Historically, the Diaoyu Islands are part of the Penghu Islands.
The Potsdam Declaration, or Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender, issued in July 1945, urged Japan to surrender unconditionally and carry out the terms of the Cairo Declaration.
The Japanese Instrument of Surrender committed “the Emperor, the Japanese Government, and their successors to carry out the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration in good faith”.
Even the restoration of diplomatic relations between China and Japan was based in part on the Cairo Declaration. In Article 3 of the 1972 Sino-Japanese Joint Statement, the government of Japan “firmly maintains its stand under Article 8 of the Potsdam Proclamation”, which obligates Japan to carry out the terms of the Cairo Declaration.
The Cairo Declaration is thus a demon-quelling stone anchoring ties between China and Japan.
The present trouble surrounding the Diaoyu Islands is rooted in Japan’s attempts to rewrite the international rulebook and overthrow the Cairo Declaration.
When US Vice-President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister David Cameron visit this week, our new Air Defense Identification Zone may be a hard-to-navigate topic. But our leaders should review with them the Cairo Declaration, and tell them, challenging our legitimate claim to the Diaoyu Islands is an outright betrayal of the Declaration.