It looks like the No. 3 Trail in the Dakeng Scenic Area has taken quite a beating from the elements since the last time I went on it. There were three different places where the trail had collapsed and fallen down the side of the mountain, but fortunately new routes have been set up...for now.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
This Sunday afternoon the Kaminoge family drove over to the Fengyuan Culture Center (apparently there is culture in this city after all) to check out some kind of fair that was being held there. Various government and local groups had set up booths to display a variety of things, including a number of arts and crafts. It all sounded innocent enough, but once we got there something started to bother me, something about all the tricolor (blue, yellow and red) flags flapping in the wind:
I was trying to work out the connection between this fair and an as-yet-unidentified European country when the answer appeared right in front of me, on the backs of the vests being worn by hundreds of volunteers at the event:
SGI - Sōka Gakkai International. Sōka Gakkai 創価学会, for those of you who don't know, bills itself as a "Buddhist lay organization". In reality, it's about as Buddhist as the Mormon Church is Christian, and is more like a cult, led by the Kim Il-sung-like figure of Daisaku Ikeda 池田大作. Like the Mormons, SG has been around long enough, and has grown large enough in size, that it has become respectable - almost. SG members still have a reputation of being aggressive, intolerant proselytizers, which combined with the group's supposedly unaffiliated political wing, the New Kōmeitō Party 公明党, has resulted in most ordinary Japanese being distrustful and wary of the organization.
Sōka Gakkai and I have had a long, mutually antagonistic relationship, going back to my early days living in Tōkyō. I used to date a woman who was a member, and through her, I was able to witness firsthand the level of control and brainwashing the organization had over its followers. She tried her best to convince me to join - by going to concerts to see bands made up of SG converts, eating out at restaurants owned by SG followers, and most of all, by giving me lots of English-language literature by and about Ikeda the Great One. Instead of seeing the benefits of chanting "Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō 南無妙法蓮華經 day and night, I only saw a group that was preying on...er, recruiting those in Japanese society who did not already belong to large groups - the self-employed, homemakers, part-timers and bar hostesses and others from the nighttime "entertainment" business 水商売. After 18 months of subtle and not-so-subtle attempts at getting me to see the light, my Dedicated Follower pretty much gave up and our relationship came to an end. I may have been a waste of time, but judging from the number of people serving as staff for today's event, it seems Sōka Gakkai International has established a significant presence in Taichung County 台中県. Are all those Mormon missionaries I see around Fengyuan (Hōgen) 豊原 aware of the formidable competition they are up against?
SGI-organized though it may have been, we still enjoyed ourselves at the fair today. My daughter was able to try her hand at painting:
...my wife went for a spin on an earthquake simulator:
and we came away with two free cherry trees, though I'm not sure where we can keep them in our small, dark apartment:
Meanwhile, Fengyuan's mausoleum kept watch over the city from its perch in the hills:
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Last night I was feverish and my joints were aching, and today was rainy. So of course I took advantage of a free afternoon today to ride out to the Dakeng Scenic Area to do some hiking. I arrived at the start to the No. 1 Trail just after 12:30, and set off in a steady downpour. Fortunately, the rain let up as soon as the repaired trail started climbing in earnest, and for the entire two hours I was out on the trails (up No. 1, down No. 2), not a single other walker was encountered. The hike was far from quiet - birds were singing, (more ominously) there were continual sounds of falling rocks, and at one point I was sure I could hear monkeys moving about - but the sounds of the mountain are never annoying. It was great to be alone in the mist, even for a brief couple of hours.
Young Taiwanese children in public places, on the other hand, are often far from quiet. This evening I was teaching a private lesson at the local KFC when a mother came in with her young son. As is sadly too often the case in this country, Mom proceeded to let her child run riot all over the dining room, never looking up from the magazine she was reading (or the cell phone she was speaking into) while Junior climbed over various chairs and tables, stood up on countertops, yelled at the top of his little (but still powerful lungs) and had a good, up-close look at the hairy barbarian in his midst. As a parent of a small child, I can understand (and sympathize) how one might want to take a break from constantly having to tell their little one not to do this or that, but when we're out in public places, I'm always conscious of what negative effects Amber's actions might be having on the people around her, and therefore do something about it, if necessary. However, and to be honest, unsurprisingly, many parents in Taiwan just don't seem to care. My students, who are no doubt used to these things, just tried to ignore it. Had I been on my own, I might not have.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
This weekend was supposed to have been one in which I replaced my five year-old laptop (the one with the loose keys and occasional electric shocks) with a relatively new desktop computer that my brother-in-law, having recently sold his printing business, no longer needed. Unfortunately, the continuing thread running throughout my life - Things Which Are Supposed To Make My Life Better Usually Don't - popped up again. Basically, I found that I couldn't get a number of plug-ins to work on the desktop, including the software to upload photos from the digital camera. So now I'm back on the old notebook once again, and wondering if I should invest in a new one. Wait, what is that theme music I'm hearing?
Now that it's back to business as usual, here are a few photographs from this weekend, beginning with my daughter modeling her new swimsuit:
Saturday was Amber's first proper swimming lesson. For the past 18 months, she had been taking classes to familiarize herself with being in the water, but now that she is three, it's time for her to learn how to swim. It was also her first time to be in a class without either of her parents present (we were watching from a distance, through a window), and everything appeared to go well yesterday morning. Last one in the water...
This morning we went into Taichung (Taichū) 台中 again, to the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts . The purpose wasn't to expose Amber to the world of art (that time will come later), nor to check out the facilities there for children (which I've read are excellent, and thus hope to see for ourselves in the very near future). It seems that my wife had posted some photos of our daughter online, and in short order, she received an email from a professional photographer saying that he thought some companies specializing in clothing for children might be interested in her as a model. So we agreed to meet at the museum in order to have some sample photographs taken. Amber wasn't the most cooperative model at times, but for the most part, things went well and she seemed to enjoy herself. The bubbles certainly helped:
My wife is much more interested in this than I am. We'll wait and what, if anything, happens.
The attractive grounds of the art museum also brought other photographers and models this morning:
The woman on the left was being photographed by no less than seven cameramen, all male and all looking like the stereotypical otaku おたく.
Before heading back to Fengyuan today, we stopped off at Dunkin' Donuts ダンキンドーナツ. Yes, the interior really does look like this:
Friday, March 20, 2009
They say that all good things must come to an end, and so it was with my morning class of more than three years. One of my employers decided that it was no longer affordable to keep the morning classes going, and so this past Wednesday was the last lesson. I won't dwell on the lack of communication (I was never officially told of the decision, and only learned about it from a Chinese-language announcement placed in the class attendance record one morning), and instead thank those students who attended regularly. Today some of them treated Amber and I to lunch at a local hot pot 火鍋 restaurant. Hopefully, I'll get to see some of them again in my remaining evening and Saturday classes. As for me, I'll be going full-time at a kindergarten/cram school from Monday, so I won't be losing any income. Still...
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Call it what you want, but one of the hottest issues of recent weeks in Taiwan has been the CECA/ECPA. In an article carried by the Japan Times ジャパンタイムズ ("Clinching a free trade accord with Beijing" http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20090316fc.html), Frank Ching sets the scene:
"Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao recently offered to hold political and military talks with Taiwan in order to end the state of hostility between the two sides, which has existed for 60 years. Taiwan immediately rejected the offer, with President Ma Ying-jeou (Ba Eikyū) 馬英九 saying through a spokesman, 'At this stage, we will only talk about economic and trade issues.' That is certainly the right attitude to adopt. Relations with China have improved dramatically since Ma became Taiwan's leader last year, with four agreements — none of which were overtly political — signed in 2008. But he must move cautiously if only because there is a great deal of suspicion within Taiwan of Beijing's intentions. So sensitive is the situation that the president has had to change the name of the trade agreement that he wants to negotiate with Beijing, previously called a cross-strait Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). Political opponents felt that sounded too much like CEPA, the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement that Hong Kong and Macau have signed with the mainland, and feared that such an accord would signify that Taiwan, like Hong Kong and Macau, came under Chinese sovereignty. Partly for that reason, Ma decided to change the name. Now, it is called ECFA for Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement. Taiwan also feels that a framework agreement will be easier to negotiate than a comprehensive one."
Ching has never been a supporter of an independent Taiwan, so his enthusiasm for the CEPA/ECFA comes as no surprise:
"To Taiwan, a trade agreement with Beijing is crucial not only because the mainland is now the island's most important trading partner but also because it hopes that such an accord will pave the way to agreements with the countries of Southeast Asia and end Taiwan's marginalization in the Asia-Pacific region. Beijing and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have reached an agreement under which most tariffs will be eliminated by next year between China and the six original ASEAN members. The remaining four members will be included in the FTA by 2015. This will create a free trade zone with a population larger than either NAFTA or the European Union. Moreover, Japan, South Korea and India also have FTA deals with ASEAN. And last month Australia and New Zealand signed FTA accords with ASEAN. Thus Taiwan's major trading partners are weaving an FTA network among themselves that excludes Taiwan. Unless this changes, Taiwan will find it more difficult to trade since it will have to pay export duties that other countries do not. Studies show that if China, Japan and South Korea join ASEAN in an FTA, Taiwan's GDP will shrink by more than one percentage point. The more countries involved, the greater the impact on Taiwan. That's why Taiwan is feeling increasingly desperate. It wants to reach a trade agreement with China after which, it hopes, other trading partners will be willing to sign similar accords. There is a danger that if Taiwan does not achieve a breakthrough, it will find itself in nearly the same boat as North Korea — an outcast within the international community."
Strong words. But how much more integration with the Chinese economy does Taiwan really need? Since restrictions were lifted in the early 1990's, billions of dollars have flowed from Taiwan into China, along with hundreds of thousands of businesspeople, and most worrisome of all, a lot of manufacturing jobs. In return for this growing dependence on the Chinese, what has Taiwan received in return? The Anti-Secession Law and a growing number of missiles pointed at it, are two things that come to mind, as well as the ongoing efforts to block or limit Taiwan's participation in international organizations. Even Ching admits that signing an accord on closer economic integration may not help Taiwan in the international arena:
"It is Ma's hope that once Beijing has reached a trade agreement with Taiwan, it will not object to similar agreements between Taiwan and its other trading partners. This will not necessarily be the case. Beijing may still object to other countries reaching trade agreements with Taiwan."
Of course, if the ultimate goal is political integration with China, then Taiwan, to paraphrase Ching's conclusion:
"...has everything to gain and little to lose."
Sunday, March 15, 2009
My wife read online last night that there was going to be an open house at Taichung Harbor today and tomorrow involving three vessels from the ROC Navy, so this afternoon we drove down to take a look at the ships. The weather was warmer than expected, the crowds were not overwhelming and everyone was in a good mood, with the exception of our three year-old, who got a little cranky at times. But even Amber said later that she liked the ships. For once, there wasn't a food vendor in sight, which was unfortunate, because we didn't eat lunch before arriving at the waterside. Just like the police - when you really need one, they're nowhere to be found.
左: "Cute" military characters were available for photo ops, but Amber found them to be a little creepy, and refused to be photographed with them. Her father didn't blame her.
右: There were three ships at the harbor, all of which could be boarded by the public. We ended up visiting two of them. I'm not a military geek, so I couldn't tell you what kind of ships they were, but if I had to hazard a guess, I'd say they were destroyers.
左: The view from the bridge of one of the ships.
右: Amber tries out the captain's chair.
On the way home (after finally finding something to eat), we stopped off at the rest area near Qingshui (Seisui) 清水, located on the No. 3 Freeway フォルモサ高速公路. This place is always packed, on weekends anyway, and especially around sunset. It's hard to find what all the excitement is about - young couples watching the sun set through the haze, over a parking lot filled with cars, and with a landscape of factories and apartment buildings stretching down to the barely visible sea. On the other hand, the facilities at the rest area are some of the best in Taiwan. There are plenty of shops and places to eat, and even a large fish tank that never fails to enthrall the kids.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
From today's Daily Yomiuri ザ・デイリー読売 comes an article on the spread of Japanese restaurants across Asia (http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/business/20090314TDY08301.htm):
"Japanese restaurant chains are advancing into the rest of Asia--including China, Thailand and Taiwan--where the popularity of Japanese cuisine is soaring as the standard of living improves. Shrinking Japanese domestic markets, mainly due to a declining birthrate and a drop in consumer spending, lie behind the trend of Japanese restaurant companies seeking to expand into new markets."
The story mainly focuses on outlets being opened in Shanghai, but Taiwan is briefly mentioned in one paragraph:
"Some firms that have already opened restaurants outside of Japan are making steady profits. Ootoya Co. 大戸屋 based in Tōkyō 東京, which sells low-cost meals at its restaurant chain, opened its first overseas restaurant in Thailand in January 2005. The firm now has 31 overseas outlets in Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong--out of a total 242 at home and abroad--that earn about 10 percent of its consolidated sales."
Japanese food is very popular in Taiwan, and rave reviews of mainly Taipei (Taihoku) 台北-based 日本料理 eateries can be found throughout the blogosphere here. However, I found myself continually disappointed by the quality of Japanese food served in restaurants in Taiwan. For example, noodle dishes such as ramen ラーメン are marked by their underwhelming flavors. Taiwanese chefs appear to labor under the notion that Japanese cuisine is meant to bland, and in fact I've been told by several students who have traveled to Japan that the food there was too "salty"! After living for nearly 18 months in Yokkaichi 四日市, Mie Prefecture 三重県, my Taiwanese wife complained that the Japanese food on offer in Taiwan was tasteless! Unfortunately, she seems to be in the minority.
I also have problems when it comes to my favorite Japanese dish, tonkatsu 豚カツ. In Japan, it is almost universally tasty. In Taiwan, the pork often has too much fat, the batter is too thick (a problem that also plagues tempura 天ぷら dishes in Taiwan), and worst of all, instead of Worcestershire sauce and mustard, ketchup is often presented as a condiment to go with the meat!
And then there is sushi 寿司 and sashimi 刺身. Is it only my imagination (or bias), or is the quality better at the cheapest conveyor belt joints 回転寿司 in Japan than the more expensive Japanese restaurants here in Taiwan? Wasabi ワサビ is often provided (and used) in such great amounts that is absorbs almost all the soy sauce. So much for subtlety. And perhaps I'm just unlucky, but it seems every time I have sashimi, the fish is served half-frozen.
As a lover of Japanese cuisine, therefore, I'm happy to read that more Japanese restaurants will apparently be opening up in Taiwan. I shouldn't get my hopes up too high, however. Take the above-mentioned Ootoya, for example. A Google search revealed there are 9 outlets on this island - five in Taipei, two in Kaohsiung (Takao) 高雄, and one each in Hsinchu (Shinchiku) 新竹 and Tainan 台南. The staff at Compass Magazine may delude themselves into believing that Taichung (Taichū) 台中 is the "culture city", but it takes a long time for things from the outside world to make their way into the central part of Taiwan. And as for good ol' Fengyuan (Hōgen) 豊原, well, there is a MOS Burger モスバーガー...
In the interests of fairness, the state of Chinese food in Japan is just as bad. There was a "Taiwanese" restaurant in downtown Yokkaichi that served Japanized versions of Taiwanese noodle, rice and tofu dishes. And who in their right mind would list "Japanese food/restaurants" as one of their reasons for visiting Taiwan? It's just that as a long-term resident in a small city who needs a break from the stir-fries and chopped-up pieces of bone, it would be nice if the most popular international alternative could taste a little more like it does in its place or origin, and a little less like the native dishes.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
It has been a long fall for Taiwan in baseball, from dominating the Little League リトルリーグ World Series back in the Seventies, to this:
China ousts Taiwan in Classic (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/baseball/more/03/07/china.taiwan.ap/index.html)
"Ray Chang homered and drove in two runs as China beat Taiwan 4-1 on Saturday for its first win in the World Baseball Classic ワールド・ベースボール・クラシック."
China eliminates Taiwan (http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/sports/20090308TDY24302.htm)
"Baseball in China took a huge step toward credibility, as the team managed by former Orix Buffaloes オリックス・バファローズ skipper Terry Collins テリーコリンズ shocked Taiwan 4-1 in a WBC elimination game on Saturday at Tōkyō Dome 東京ドーム. U.S.-born Ray Chang went 3-for-3 with a double, a homer and two RBIs, and starter Lu Jiangang 呂建剛, the winning pitcher against Taiwan at the Beijing Olympics 北京オリンピック, set the tone by allowing just one run over 5-1/3 innings to lead the way. China has now beaten the Taiwanese back-to-back in international play. It won 8-7 in 12 innings at the Beijing Games last summer. The loss also made Taiwan, which fell to South Korea 9-0 on Friday night, the first team to be bounced from the WBC, taking it out of Group A play with two defeats in less than 24 hours."
Talk about a loss of face...
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Taiwan's team came into the World Baseball Classic's Asia Round at Tōkyō Dome 東京ドーム with lowered expectations in the aftermath of its poor performance at last year's Beijing Olympics 北京オリンピック, and in the first game at least, it lived up (or should that be down?) to them. From the Daily Yomiuri ザ・デイリー読売:
As expected / South Korea whips Taiwan to set up showdown with Japan (http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/sports/20090307TDY26301.htm)
"South Korea made the Taiwan players and coaches hide their eyes in the first inning on Friday with a grand slam from Lee Jin Young 李晋暎 in a six-run rally that the reigning Olympic champion rode to a 9-0 victory in front of 12,704 at Tōkyō Dome. Korea took advantage of some first-inning wildness by Taiwan starter Lee Chen-chang, who handed out three free passes, a hit batter and a single before Lee Jin Young's slam to deep right capped the rally in the second game of the Tōkyō Round"
And the Japan Times ジャパンタイムズ:
Lee, South Korea trounce Taiwan (http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/sb20090307o1.html)
"South Korea didn't have to work too hard to notch its first win of the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Taiwan's starting pitcher took care of a lot of the heavy lifting himself. South Korea had twice as many runs as hits in the first, including Lee Jin Young's towering grand slam, as they cruised in to 9-0 rout of Taiwan on Friday night in front 18,704 fans Tōkyō Dome. 'The reason for the victory is the Taiwan pitchers gave us a lot of opportunities and our hitters turned those into runs,' South Korea manager Kim In Sik said. The Koreans also turned a WBC-record five double plays in the victory."
The MLB.com website has a preview of Taiwan's do-or-die game against China:
China to take on Chinese Taipei. Loser will be eliminated; winner will play Japan or Korea (http://mlb.mlb.com/wbc/2009/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090306&content_id=3928410&vkey=wbc&team=&lang=1)
"China will meet Chinese Taipei チャイニーズタイペイ in Game 3 of the 2009 World Baseball Classic Pool A, Asia Round, in a day game at Tōkyō Dome on Saturday. Both clubs lost their opening games in the tournament, and the loser of this game will be eliminated. The winner will stay alive and play again on Sunday against the loser of Saturday night's Game 4 between Japan and Korea. China is hoping for a repeat of its 8-7 victory over Chinese Taipei in the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008, while Chinese Taipei will be trying to duplicate the results of the 2006 World Baseball Classic, when it defeated China 12-2."
If Taiwan loses this one, it might be time to throw its hands up in the air in surrender, become a Special Administrative Region a la Hong Kong 香港 or Macau マカオ and give up any dreams of being a sovereign state.
Oh, wait, that's already happening, isn't it?
Friday, March 6, 2009
I was only being sarcastic the other day when I referred to the Japan-U.S. Mutual Security Treaty 日米安保 as an "obscure" document, but apparently it is to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs 中華民国外交部, at least judging by this article from today's Taipei Times newspaper ("Ministry unaware of US view on Diaoyutai islands" http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2009/03/06/2003437734):
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was unaware that the US had recently said the US-Japan security treaty includes the much-disputed Diaoyutai archipelago in the East China Sea 東シナ海, Department of North American Affairs Director-General Harry Tseng (曾厚仁) said yesterday during a weekly briefing...He said the reason that MOFA was unaware of the State Department’s アメリカ合衆国国務省 position was there had been no public announcement and it only existed as a guidance note for dealing with direct questions from reporters. 'I didn’t ask the US for more information on this particular issue,' Tseng said. 'For a more thorough explanation of the statement, I would suggest you go and speak to the AIT 米国在台湾協会. The government’s stance is very clear: That we have rightful claim over the Diaoyutais.'"
Doesn't anybody at MOFA bother to read newspapers or check the wire services? The statement from the AIT last week wasn't even the first time the US government has clarified its stance on the Senkaku Islands 尖閣諸島. A quick Google search revealed that:
"The 1960 US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security applies to territories under the administration of Japan, including the Senkaku Islands. In November 1996, Assistant Secretary of Defense (Kurt M.) Campbell stated that the basic position of the US is that the Japan-US security treaty would cover the Senkaku Islands. Secretary of Defense William Perry reconfirmed this fact on 03 December 1996"
"On March 24, 2004, Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman at the US State Department said 'The Senkaku Islands have been under the administrative control of the Government of Japan since having been returned as part of the reversion of Okinawa 沖縄 in 1972. Article 5 of the 1960 U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security states that the treaty applies to the territories under the administration of Japan; thus, Article 5 of the Mutual Security Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands. Sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands is disputed. The U.S. does not take a position on the question of the ultimate sovereignty of the Senkaku Diaoyu Islands. This has been our longstanding view. We expect the claimants will resolve this issue through peaceful means and we urge all claimants to exercise restraint.'"
So apparently MOFA employees don't know how to use search engines, either. You would think those who are tasked with the job of managing Taiwan's foreign affairs would have been more familiar with Japan's security treaty with the United States (it doesn't take a Master's in International Relations to figure out the implications of the aforementioned Article 5) , but it seems that isn't the case at all.
In addition to Japanese islands, it appears Taiwan is also eying Japanese know how, according to Japan Focus ("Taiwan to set up company to solicit U.S., Japan DRAM patents" http://www.japantoday.com/category/technology/view/taiwan-to-set-up-company-to-solicit-us-japan-dram-patents):
"Taiwan announced Thursday it will set up a company to attract overseas technology, including from Japan, for the manufacture of dynamic random access memory chips in a bid to rescue the island’s $28 billion DRAM industry. The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ plan to establish the Taiwan Memory Co within the next six months comes as the island’s chipmakers are reeling from a supply glut and plummeting exports amid the global financial crisis."
If the bureaucrats at the MOEA are anything like their counterparts at MOFA, Taiwan's chipmakers are probably doomed.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
A few photos from a morning walk in the area around the mountaintop Guanyin (Kannon) 観音 Temple in Taichung (Taichū) 台中:
A small temple built into the side of a hill, looking like something from "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" カリガリ博士. For some reason, plastic colored bowling pins were hung along the covered corridor:
The Guanyin Temple complex off in the distance:
These statues at the temple appear to be arhats 阿羅漢, those who have achieved nirvana 涅槃:
Even on the edge of the city, people are crammed into the modern, Taiwanese equivalent of tenement blocks (for the middle class, no less):
Why was there a vehicle, made up to look like a ship and representing the city government of Keelung (Kiirun) 基隆 parked by the side of the road? And what is the apparent connection to Double Ten Day 中華民国国慶日?:
Back in the material world, the Japan Times ジャパンタイムズ carried an article the other day that should give pause for thought to any Chinese patriots determined to restore the beloved Diaoyutai Islands 釣魚台群島 to the bosom of the sacred motherland ("U.S. reassures Japan that defense pact extends to Senkaku Islands http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090302a4.html):
"With Japan, China and Taiwan trading barbs over sovereignty of the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands 尖閣諸島 in the East China Sea 東シナ海, the United States has reiterated that the islets are covered by the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty 日米安保. 'The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security signed by Tōkyō 東京 and Washington in 1960, which states that it applies to the territories under the administration of Japan, does apply to the island,' Larry Walker, a spokesman for the American Institute in Taiwan 米国在台湾協会, the de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei (Taihoku) 台北, said Saturday. But Walker said the United States reserves judgment on ultimate sovereignty of the islands, which have been under Japanese administrative control since the reversion of Okinawa 沖縄 to Japan from U.S. administrative rule in 1972...The comments came after China on Thursday expressed 'strong dissatisfaction' over remarks by Prime Minister Tarō Asō 麻生太郎 that Japan and the United States would work together to deal with any attack by a third country on the disputed islets, which are claimed by China and Taiwan."
I guess those Taiwanese officials who were stating last year that war was an option over the Senkakus were unaware of the obscure security treaty.