The US has over two centuries of experience with the East and South China seas, but the passage of time and the Cold War dimmed memories about the Diaoyu Islands. Today, Washington must adopt a strictly impartial position on the longstanding dispute between China and Japan, and should support a peaceful diplomatic process to resolve the issue over time.
Some make a false claim that the US historically considered the Diaoyu Islands part of the Ryukyu Islands, today's Okinawa Prefecture. But the record shows otherwise.
The expedition of US Commodore Matthew Perry famously opened up Japan, and that to this end the US and Japan signed the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854.
It is not remembered that Perry also negotiated a Convention in 1854 with what was then called "Lew Chew" (Liu Chiu). At the time, it was well known that the Diaoyu Islands were not part of the historic Ryukyu kingdom, composed of 36 islands.
The official results of the Perry expedition were presented to the US Congress, and to the world, through the publication of a comprehensive report in three volumes which included maps and naval charts. These maps and charts of the Ryukyu Islands did not include the Diaoyu Islands. Significantly, the convention was written in the Chinese language.
From an Asian perspective, on the one hand, the kingdom was within the traditional East Asian tribute system centered on China. On the other hand, Japanese warlords asserted influence. Perry and the US government were aware of these issues.
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