A Chinese perspective on Kokaryo

A few days ago I wrote about Kokaryo, a decrepit student dormitory in Kyoto which is the center of a 40 year long legal battle between China (People’s Republic of China) and Taiwan (Republic of China). Here is a translation of an article produced by the Chinese state owned press. I first found a Chinese language version of this piece here, on the China Central Television (CCTV) web site, under the section on “Problems in China/Japan Relations” in a special celebrating 30 years of normalized relations between China and Japan. Later on I found a Japanese translation of the very same text on an official Chinese Consulate web page, verifying that it does in fact represent the government stance. Here is a translation of that article.

Problems in Sino-Japanese Relations

(7) Kokaryo

Kokaryo is in Kyoto City, Japan, and is a student dormitory that at first Kyoto University rented for the use of Chinese students during World War II. The building has five floors above ground, one below ground, and an area of 2130 square meters. In May of 1950, the representative body of the Taiwanese authorities in Japan sold off assets that had been seized from the Japanese army that had invaded China, and used those government funds to purchase the building. In December of 1952, the Taiwanese “Ambassador to Japan” [Ed: take note if the use of quotations] entered into a sales contract with the former owner of the building, and in June of 1961 registered the property under the name of “Republic of China.” In June of 1961 Chen Zhi-mai, Taiwan’s “Ambassador to Japan” filed a lawsuit at the Kyoto District Court with the patriotic overseas Chinese as the defendants, requesting their eviction from the Kokaryo. However, patriotic overseas Chinese and foreign students of our country had consistently been managing and living in the property since Japan lost the war, and there had been no participation from Taiwan in this. After the normalization of Sino-Japanese relations, the Chinese Embassy in Japan and the Chinese Consulate in Osaka had continually been fiscally supervising and guiding the Kokaryo. The Chinese government made special payments, made repairs to Kokaryo, and used it as a dormitory for study abroad students from our country.

In September 1977, the Kyoto district court rejected the plaintif’s complaint and recognized that, based on the normalization of Sino-Japanese relations, the property rights of Kokaryo belonged to the People’s Republic of China, but on the other hand, pronounced that the plaintiff did have the right to litigate as an interested party. In October of the same year, Taiwanese authorities filed an appeal in the Osaka Supreme Court under the name of “Republic of China.” In April of 1982, the Osaka Supreme Court accepted the appeal of the “Republic of China” as “the confirmed de-facto government” of Taiwan and overturned the verdict of the Kyoto District Court. In February of 1986 the Kyoto District Court, quoting the main argument of the Osaka Supreme Court, found against the patriotic-for-China overseas Chinese. In February of 1987, the Osaka Supreme Court decided a second trial upholding the verdict of the original trial. In response, the overseas Chinese appealed to the Japan Supreme Court in March of 1987.

From 1974 until now, China has made several appeals to Japan, stressing the following. Kokaryo is a national asset of China, and China has sought the cooperation of Japan in rectifying the name under which Kokaryo is registered, as the property rights of Kokaryo should have belonged to the People’s Republic of China since the normalization of Sino-Japanese relations. The Kokaryo issue is not an ordinary civil suit. It is an issue related to the legal interests of the Chinese government, and a case related to the basic principles of relations between Japan and China. The substance of this problem is the very public creation of “two China’s” in a formal Judicial manner, and violates the Joint Communiqué of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People’s Republic of China and Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People’s Republic of China, and shatters the understanding that relationed between Japan and Taiwan shall be limited to private and regional channels. The verdict of the Osaka Supreme Court is not only politically mistaken, but is also of no use legally, violated the fundamentals and principles of international law with a number of problems such as the distinction between national succession, governmental succession and government recognized legal validity and the nature of property, and also does not accord with the Japanese constitution. At present, this case is still in progress at the Japanese Supreme Court. China is watching with great interest.

One thought on “A Chinese perspective on Kokaryo”

  1. Thank you for the text MutantFrog. Gave me a clear presentation of the situation. Do you have any other related information on this case dealing with international laws?

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