The Editorial Board of the New York Times on August 12, 2013 under the title “Chinese Foot-Dragging” wrote “If there is ever going to be an end to tensions over the South China Sea, one of the world’s most strategically important waterways, countries in the region need to find a way to work out their volatile disputes. China, more than any other nation, has fanned those hostilities with sweeping sovereignty claims and confrontations over disputed island and even specks of rock.” Anyone who has impartially studied this part of history will know that this is a completely fallacious accusation and is purposely fabricated to support the U.S. government’s policy to contain and weaken China. Furthermore, this is not just an isolated article, but one of many articles or talks by various media channels, academic professors, think tank researchers, and political leaders over the last many months. Why haven’t those who should know better and who are supposed to be independent thinkers, such as Asian history and political science professors in the hallowed halls of our prestigious universities, spoken out against such lies. Perhaps the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us on January 17, 1961, just three days before the end of his presidency, has become the military-industrial-academic complex.
It is sufficient to discuss only one example, the most important and the most media-covered example: the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands  which are claimed by both China and Japan. Even though this dispute may still be relatively unknown to most people in the West, it has resulted in both countries mobilizing coast guard and military ships and planes patrolling this area in close proximity of each other, and has raised the tension in this area to such a high level that could easily lead to war between China on one side and Japan/U.S. on the other side.
What are the positions of these three countries?
Japan’s Position: Japan claims that they discovered these islands in 1884, and started exploring these unoccupied and unclaimed islands, and then annexed them on January 11, 1895 as part of the Okinawa Prefecture.  What Japan does not state is that their exploration took place several centuries after it had been known to the world, including Japan, that these islands have been part of China, and furthermore that their own government documents clearly showed that Japan had been involved in a secret plan to steal these islands from China. This secret scheme of trickery is well documented in Japan’s own government documents, as pointed out by independent analyses by Han-Yi Shaw, a Chinese scholar in Taiwan , Professor Kiyoshi Inoue, a Japanese historian at Kyoto University , and Professor Murata Tadayoshi, an honorary professor at Japan’s Yokohama National University . All three scholars concluded that there is no doubt that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China.
China’s Position: Many Chinese historical documents and maps dating back to as early as the 14th century have recorded that the Diaoyu Islands are part of Chinese territory. Besides Chinese maps, many ancient foreign maps (including maps from Japan, France, and the U.S.) have also shown that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China. In the Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty, China had placed the Diaoyu Islands under its coastal defense, and in the Qing Dynasty China had also placed the Diaoyu Islands under the jurisdiction of the local government of Taiwan.
It is also important to note that the Diaoyu Islands are about 100 nautical miles from Taiwan and is on Taiwan’s continental shelf, but about 200 nautical miles from Okinawa and separated by a deep trough. We also want to mention two other historical events that occurred during the period when Taiwan and the Okinawa Prefecture were under the control of Japan. One was a 1940 court case initiated by Okinawans on who has jurisdiction over the Diaoyu Islands, and after more than a year of investigation, a Tokyo court ruled that the Taiwan Province should have jurisdiction. Another was that before 1945, in order for fishermen to go near the Diaoyu Islands to fish, they had to obtain a permit from a jurisdiction in Taiwan.
Therefore, historically, geographically, and legally, for many centuries these islands have been part of Taiwan, and therefore China.
U.S.’s Position: Before the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the U.S. was the main architect of the the 1943 Cairo Declaration, the 1945 Potsdam Declaration, and the 1945 Japanese Instrument of Surrender. These international documents all state clearly that at the end of WWII, to China Japan should return Taiwan and other territories that Japan had stolen from China. This therefore means that when Japan returned Taiwan to China after the end of WWII, the Diaoyu Islands were also returned to China.
The case should have been closed. Why is there still a dispute? After the Chinese Communist Party won the civil war in China in 1949, the U.S. has consistently adopted a policy to weaken and contain China. Starting in the early 1950s, the U.S. began to use Japan as its partner and pawn, and adopted an antagonistic attitude toward China. This antagonistic attitude toward China had many manifestations. One obvious one was not inviting China, either the government of the Republic of China (ROC) or the People’s Republic of China (PRC), to the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, when China was one of the victorious countries and the country that suffered the most casualties and atrocities under the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII. From the very beginning, the People’s Republic of China stated that “If the People’s Republic of China is excluded from the preparation, formulation and signing of the peace treaty with Japan, it will, no matter what its content and outcome are, be regarded as illegal and therefore invalid by the central people’s government.” The San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed on September 8, 1951, and placed the Ryukyu Islands under UN’s trusteeship, with the U.S. as the sole administering authority.
However, even the San Francisco Peace Treaty did not include the Diaoyu Islands as part of the territory of the Ryukyu Islands. It was more than a year later on December 25, 1953, when the U.S. unilaterally expanded the territory of Ryukyu Islands to include the Diaoyu Islands! Then in 1972 the U.S. handed over to Japan the administrative control of the Ryukyu Islands, including the Diaoyu Islands, although stating that the territorial sovereignty of these islands are unsettled.
U.S.’s Complicity: It is important to note that even according to the U.S.’s position, it is only the administrative authority that was handed over to Japan, not the territorial sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands. This leads to another puzzling question that if the territorial sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands is unsettled, then why should the U.S. include the Diaoyu Islands in the U.S.-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty. As pointed out in an earlier article in this website, This inconsistent foreign policy could easily drag the U.S. into a war in Asia that it has no moral or legal justification to be involved. For a more detailed discussion of the above historical background, see the article “Inconsistent Foreign Policy May Drag U.S. Into Another War.”
This unilateral decision of the U.S. ignored completely the historical evidence and the decisions of the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Declaration, and the 1945 Japanese Instrument of Surrender in which the U.S. played the primary role. This decision not only planted a seed for dispute, but at the same time also helps to re-militarize an expansion-minded Japan, a country that still has not acknowledged and apologized for the massive atrocities it committed in China and Asia during WWII, and a country that unleashed the deadly Pearl Harbor surprise attack on the U.S.
Military-Industrial-Academic Complex: The U.S. government’s policy with respect to the Diaoyu Islands is then purely based on an anti-China premise, and explains why it has military alliances and military bases all around China. It explains why it is in collusion with a country that inflicted unimaginable atrocities all over Asia and still has not acknowledged and apologized for these massive and inhumane atrocities during WWII. Such a policy is unethical, morally wrong, very short sighted, and is mortgaging our future for possibly some short-term gains. Instead of working together with the world’s second most important country toward stability and world peace, the U.S. government is in collusion with Japan and other countries in Southeast Asia to surround, contain, and weaken China, with the potential to create instability and war in Asia.
Although it may be politically unwise for a government official or worker to question such policy of the U.S. government, why hasn’t the supposedly independent academic community that knows about this part of history spoken out against this errant and dangerous policy? Perhaps in order to survive and thrive in the academic community that places such importance on the ability to obtain research grants with the federal government being the largest dispenser of research grants, few academics are brave enough to risk their career to criticize their government’s policy.
President Eisenhower in his January 1961 speech warned us about the military-industrial complex when he said “This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. … We must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved, so is the very structure of our society.” Furthermore, President Eisenhower in the same speech actually already anticipated the military-industrial-academic complex when he also said “In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.”
A Couple Other Examples of the Academic Complex: One must also keep in mind that the Japanese government has provided a lot of funding to various Asian history and political science departments in many prestigious universities in the U.S. in the form of professorships, research grants, academic fellowships, foreign study scholarships, and travel grants. This makes one hesitate to criticize the hand that feeds you. We briefly illustrate with two examples.
The book The Making of the “Rape of Nanking”: History and Memory in Japan, China, and the United States by Takashi Yoshida came out of a study of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University and was published by Oxford University Press in 2006. It was based on Yoshida’s Ph.D. dissertation in history at Columbia University that he completed in 2001, under the guidance of a well-known history professor who is supposed to be an expert on Asian history. This book is a subtle, and not so subtle, distortion of the Nanking Massacre, and is best illustrated with a couple of quotes from the book.
“In truth, however, the image of Nanjing as the site of particularly brutal atrocities is a more recent construction.” How can one honestly claim that the image of the brutal atrocities of the Nanking Massacre is a more recent construction when there were so many well documented eyewitness oral, written, pictorial, and film archives recorded at that time by numerous foreign journalists, businessmen, missionaries, college professors/administrators, and diplomats.
“The massacre as it is discussed today did not exist in either national or international awareness until decades after the event.” Again, the Nanking Massacre was international news at the time of its occurrence in 1937-1938, and was also part of the trial of the International Military Tribunal of the Far East that took place in Tokyo between May 1946 and November 1948.
It makes one wonder how did the prestigious Columbia University award a Ph.D. based on such a distorted Ph.D. dissertation. For a more detailed refutation of this book, see the article “Subtle and Not-So-Subtle Distortions of WWII History” in this website.
Another example is the book So Far from the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins. This is supposed to be an autobiography describing the author’s terrifying experiences at the hands of Koreans as an 11 year old Japanese living in Korea in 1945 near the end of WWII, when she and her family were trying to escape from northern Korea to travel south to Seoul to go back to Japan. This book has become very popular and is often part of the required or recommended reading for students in the middle grades in many parts of the U.S. The criticism of this book is not necessarily about the authenticity of the author’s experiences, but it questions whether the book gives its young readers a very much distorted understanding of that part of history. For example, the book does not explain that the Japanese in Korea as a whole were not victims, but the Japanese government and military were the invaders and ruthless instigators of the violence. It does not mention any of the many Japanese war crimes and the atrocities that Japan imparted to the people in Korea and many other countries. Such distortion has resulted in Korea American students being criticized and harassed in their own schools by their fellow students after the latter have read the book. Education leaders of a school district have the duty and moral obligation that they should not require, recommend, or encourage their students to read books that could give rise to such a distorted understanding of history. For a more detailed refutation of this book, see the previously mentioned article “Subtle and Not-So-Subtle Distortions of WWII History.”
Summary: Because of big money in funding academic research, the federal government can exert tremendous leverage on the independence and integrity of the academic community. The academic community must be courageous enough to speak out when academic freedom is being stepped on, when the federal government is leading us toward a path of destruction. As President Eisenhower said in 1961 “We – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today. … As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war – as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years – I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.”
 These islands are called the Diaoyu Islands by China, and the Senkaku Islands by Japan.
 Japan annexed the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1879 and changed its name to Okinawa Prefecture.
 Click here to see Han-Yi Shaw’s article.
 Click here to see Professor Kiyoshi Inoue’s article.
 Click here to see an article about Professor Tadayoshi.