On the morning of August 5, President Ma Ying-jeou attended activities commemorating the 60th anniversary of the coming into force of the Treaty of Peace between the Republic of China and Japan. The event was held at the Taipei Guest House, where the treaty was signed. In an address at the gathering, President Ma unveiled his East China Sea Peace Initiative in response to the impact that the Diaoyutai islands dispute could have on stability in Northeast Asia. The president urged all sides with an interest in the issue to: refrain from taking any antagonistic actions; shelve controversies and not abandon dialogue; observe international law and resolve the disputes through peaceful means; and seek consensus on a code of conduct in the East China Sea. Lastly, he called for a mechanism under which resources in the East China Sea can be explored and developed on a cooperative basis.
In remarks, President Ma stated that the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 ultimately resulted in the decisive defeat of the Qing Dynasty and the ceding of Chinese lands to Japan as compensation. On the basis of the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki, the Qing court ceded the Liaodong Peninsula, Taiwan, and the Penghu Islands to Japan. On December 9, 1941, the ROC government declared war against Japan, and clearly stated in its declaration the abolishment of all treaties, agreements, and obligations between the ROC and Japan.
President Ma furthermore stated that on December 1, 1943, the ROC, the United States, and Great Britain issued the Cairo Declaration, which proclaimed that "all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa, and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China." The president commented that Article 8 of the Potsdam Proclamation on July 26, 1945 stated: "The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out." Subsequently, after the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Emperor of Japan announced an unconditional surrender by Japan. On September 2 of that year, aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, in which Japan clearly stated its acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation. All of these happenings, President Ma said, constituted concrete wartime pledges that the leaders of these nations made within the scope of their authority as heads of state, and are therefore legally binding. President Ma added that these three documents have been included in the US Department of State's Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America 1776-1949, while the Japanese Instrument of Surrender is included in United States Statutes at Large and the United Nations Treaty Collection.
President Ma explained that due to the changing situation in post-war East Asia, it was not until six years after the war's end that the San Francisco Peace Conference was held. And because China was embroiled in civil war at that time, neither the Chinese Communists nor the Nationalists were invited to attend. As a result, Article 26 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty specially grants authority to the allied nations and Japan to separately enter into treaties regarding territory and other related matters. On April 28, the ROC and Japan signed the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty and an accompanying Exchange of Notes, both of which came into force on August 5 of the same year, precisely 60 years ago to the day. This signifies that the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty can be deemed an extension of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the president said.
The president provided a bit of background on the events of history, noting that after the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers accepted the surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945, Japan's China Expeditionary Army surrendered to the ROC government in Nanjing on September 9. On October 25 of the same year, the ROC government formally accepted the retrocession of Taiwan to China and began to exercise its sovereignty. For instance, Taiwan was restored as a province of the ROC and the residents of Taiwan and the Penghu Islands were restored their ROC nationality. In addition, a provincial government was established and elections were held to elect representatives of the people. At the time, President Ma said, no country offered any opposition to these events.
President Ma furthermore stated that the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty included four major points. First, the document formally terminated the state of war between the two nations. Second, Japan renounced its sovereignty over Taiwan, the Penghu Islands, and the Paracel and Spratly Islands. Third, the peace treaty confirmed that all treaties and agreements concluded prior to December 9, 1941, including the Treaty of Shimonoseki, were null and void. Lastly, the treaty confirmed that the inhabitants of Taiwan and the Penghu Islands were ROC nationals. President Ma also pointed out that in the Exchange of Notes accompanying the treaty, note No.1 confirmed the understanding that the treaty would be applicable to all the territories which were then, or which might thereafter be, under the control of the Republic of China. Thus, the most significant aspect of the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty, in terms of international law, is its affirmation of the aforementioned three major wartime documents, as well as the sovereign acts of the ROC after the retrocession of Taiwan. Even though Japan unilaterally proclaimed the termination of the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty when it established diplomatic relations with mainland China in 1972, the legal force of the treaty was not affected.
In discussing relations between Taiwan and Japan, President Ma stated that upon taking office he designated relations between the two countries as a "special partnership," and numerous successes have been achieved over the past four years. For example, he said, youth exchanges have grown stronger, while the two sides have inked an open skies agreement and the Taiwan-Japan Bilateral Investment Arrangement. Also, Taiwan has established a representative office in Sapporo, and the Japanese parliament has amended and enacted legislation that provides greater dignity to ROC compatriots residing in Japan, and eliminates obstacles that had previously prevented Taiwan's National Palace Museum from exhibiting items from its collection in Japan. President Ma also pointed out that the people of Taiwan provided generous donations to Japan after the Great Northeast Japan Earthquake last year — more, in fact, than any other country in the world, and this was one factor in the two sides inking a Taiwan-Japan Friendship Initiative. President Ma said that the cooperative relationship between the two countries continues to become closer, and the friendship is at a level unprecedented in the last 40 years.
President Ma commented that several territorial disputes dating back to the end of World War II still exist in Northeast Asia. For instance, Japan and Russia dispute sovereignty over the Northern Territories (or South Kuril Islands), while Japan and Korea each claim Takeshima Island (or Dokdo Island). Meanwhile, the president said, what is particularly worrying is that the tensions associated with the dispute over the Diaoyutais are rising. President Ma said it is clear that the Diaoyutais belong to Taiwan no matter whether one examines the situation from the perspective of history, geography, geology, utilization of the islands, or international law. It is beyond dispute that the Diaoyutais have always been ROC territory, and are under the administration of Daxi Village of Toucheng Township in Yilan County, the president said.
President Ma emphasized that the ROC adheres to the provisions in the Charter of the United Nations that call for the peaceful resolution of international disputes, and has therefore consistently advocated handling the issue of the Diaoyutais in accordance with the principle of "safeguarding sovereignty, shelving disputes, pursuing peace and reciprocity, and promoting joint exploration and development." The president said that this dispute could lead to uncertainties with regard to peace and security in the East China Sea, and he therefore solemnly proposes an "East China Sea Peace Initiative" by which he calls on all parties concerned to: 1) refrain from taking any antagonistic actions; 2) shelve controversies and not abandon dialogue; 3) observe international law and resolve disputes through peaceful means; 4) seek consensus on a code of conduct in the East China Sea; and 5) establish a mechanism for cooperation on exploring and developing resources in the East China Sea.
The president stated that he has paid close attention to the issue of sovereignty over the Diaoyutais since his days as a university student. In addition, he said he has actively participated in activities to protect the ROC's sovereignty over the islands. He remarked that he has been steadfast in this regard over the past 40 years and will remain committed to this effort in the future. Sixty years ago today, he said, the ROC and Japan signed the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty at the Taipei Guest House, thus ending the most tragic and largest war in history. This war, he remarked, resulted in the deaths of more than 25 million people, with the vast majority being ROC soldiers and civilians. However, in looking back over the past 60 years, the president noted that economies in Northeast Asia have developed rapidly and the region has become the engine of the world's economic development. The president said that we do not desire to see Northeast Asia ever again succumb to the catastrophe of war, which is why he has unveiled his East China Sea Peace Initiative to urge all parties to address this territorial dispute in a sober manner, as it could impact peace and security in the East China Sea. President Ma said that in addition to recognizing the existence of this dispute, he hopes that all parties will work to put aside this dispute and resolve it peacefully.
President Ma stressed that although national sovereignty cannot be compromised, natural resources can be shared. He called on all parties concerned to act in the spirit of the East China Sea Peace Initiative by jointly pursuing peace and cooperation in the region. Lastly, the president also expressed his hopes that the public will understand the historical and contemporary significance of the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty, and that on the basis of such an understanding they will then appreciate the integral unity of Taiwan and the ROC, and have an even greater love for the land and people of Taiwan.
Among those attending the event were President of the Judicial Yuan Rai Hau-min (賴浩敏), National Security Council Secretary-General Hu Wei-jen (胡為真), Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Chin-tien Yang (楊進添), Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧), National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Philip Y. M. Yang (楊永明), and Academia Historica Director Lu Fang-shang (呂芳上).