China scholars enter Okinawa fray

Historians in the News

TOKYO - To much of the world, the Japanese island of Okinawa is synonymous with vast United States military bases and the troubled relationship between servicemen and locals who want the Americans out. In recent years, however, the specter of anti-Chinese sentiment is also in the air.

Powerful Chinese interests now laying claim to sovereignty of the Okanawa islands - which is located halfway between Kyushu and Taiwan - may increase the antagonism over the disputed Senkaku Islands (known by China as the Diaoyu Islands), which are also administered as part of Okinawa prefecture....

More than a few Chinese scholars are beginning to claim Okinawa as Chinese land by writing numerous academic papers in Chinese journals, though they are still in a minority among historians.

Xu Yong, noted professor of history at the Beijing University, is among scholars whose work presents the Chinese case. Xu was a member of the Japan-China Joint History Research Committee, set up in 2006 under an agreement between then-prime minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Hu Jintao. This was an attempt to salvage bilateral relations that dived during the time of Abe's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, and his regular visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine memorializing Japan's war dead (including Class A war criminals such as Hideki Tojo)....

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