Taipei--The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) reiterated Sunday that the Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea are part of the Republic of China (Taiwan), whether from a historical, geographical or legal standpoint.
The ministry issued the statement after United States Defense Secretary James Mattis said Saturday that Washington remained committed to defending Japan, including the group of disputed islands known in Japan as the Senkakus.
"I made clear that our long-standing policy on the Senkaku Islands stands -- the U.S. will continue to recognize Japanese administration of the islands, and as such Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty applies," Mattis said during a visit to Japan.
Article 5 of the treaty says the U.S. will defend territories under Japanese administration, which would include the Senkakus, according to Mattis.
The uninhabited Diaoyutais, some 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, have been under Japan's administrative control since 1972 but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.
In response to Mattis' comments, the MOFA said the Diaoyutais are an inherent part of the ROC, whether considered from the perspective of history, geography, geology, use, or international law.
The ROC indisputably holds sovereignty over the Diaoyutais, the ministry said.
Between 1945 and 1972, while under the trusteeship of the U.S. government, the Diaoyutai Islands were not under the control of Japan or any other country, the ministry said.
Therefore, it said, U.S. trusteeship did not have any significance in terms of sovereignty.
Judging from relevant diplomatic documents, the U.S. in the 1970s adopted and has since maintained a neutral stance on the Diaoyutai sovereignty issue, according to the foreign ministry.
It said the ROC government has said consistently that it is willing to resolve the international dispute over the Diaoyutais in a peaceful manner under the terms of the U.N. Charter and international law.
Taiwan's government will continue to inform the U.S. of its stance on sovereignty of the Diaoyutais and reaffirm its commitment to regional peace and stability through dialogue with all parties concerned, the ministry said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel