Experts on China's history and international law yesterday reiterated that Northeast China during Japanese occupation some 70 years ago was Chinese territory, refuting the recent remarks of some Japanese lawyers claiming that the "Manchukuo" region was "an independent state."
"The region in Northeast China was still China's territory, even under Japanese occupation," said Tang Xiaohui with the Memorial Museum of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression in suburban Beijing. "The so-called 'Manchukuo' area was the result of a Japanese invasion."
She referred to the declaration by the participating countries of the 1943 Cairo Conference as evidence in the matter. It urged Japan to return to China all the land it had occupied and seized since 1914, including Manchu, Taiwan and the Penghu Islands.
Last Thursday, lawyers representing the Japanese Government against a lawsuit by three orphans left in Northeast China at the end of World War II said "Manchukuo" was "an independent state." They claimed Japan therefore need not compensate the parties for any hardships they had suffered there.
"Manchukuo" was a puppet regime officially installed by Japan in Northeast China in 1932. Headed by the overthrown Emperor Aisin-gioro Pu Yi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), it ended with the withdrawal of Japanese troops in 1945.
"From the perspective of international law, it was illegal for Japan to make use of an overthrown emperor of China and set up a 'state,'" said Liang Shuying, professor on international law with the Beijing-based China University of Political Science and Law. Liang said that under international law, the occupation of land in aggression is temporary and should end automatically after wartime.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry has, since the incident, reaffirmed its government will stick to the principles enshrined in the speech by former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama in 1995. Murayama said that Japan's colonial rule and aggression caused tremendous suffering and harm to residents of other Asian countries.
(China Daily August 1, 2003)