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Japan Wants India To Speak Its Mind On South China Sea

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by seiko, Oct 24, 2016.

  1. seiko


    May 5, 2010
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    We are encouraging India to speak up on issues related to South China Sea because maritime security is important: Yuki Tamura, deputy director of Japan foreign ministry’s regional policy division
    Japan is worried that China’s aggression in South China Sea will eventually spill over to East China Sea
    Japanese authorities were stunned to notice in August this year more than 200 Chinese fishing boats operating in the contiguous zone around East China Sea's Senkaku islands, which Beijing insists on calling Diaoyu islands. Around the same time, 15 Chinese Maritime Law Enforcement Force (MLEF) vessels entered Japanese territorial waters around the Senkakus.

    Fifteen is a remarkable number because, according to Japanese authorities, China deploys not more than 4-5 MLEF vessels near Scarborough Shoal, which it is seeking to forcibly occupy from the Philippines, in South China Sea.

    Japanese fishermen have already stopped visiting the Senkakus. "Our people can't go to Senkakus as they fear a collision with Chinese fishing boats," said Yoshitaka Nakayama, the mayor of Ishigaki in Japan's Okinawa prefecture. The Ishigaki island is located 170 km south of the uninhabited Senkaku islands.

    It is a no-brainer that Japan's heightened focus on maritime security is directly proportional to China's growing assertiveness in East China Sea where the latter challenges Japan's sovereignty over the Senkakus, which comprise 5 islands and 3 reefs. As Beijing raises the stakes in Japan's contiguous zone as well as territorial waters in East China Sea, Japan is looking increasingly at India as an indispensable partner in preventing China from altering the maritime status quo in South China Sea where it is not itself party to any territorial dispute.

    "We are encouraging India to speak up on issues related to South China Sea because maritime security is important," said Yuki Tamura, deputy director of Japan foreign ministry's regional policy division which handles South China Sea, told TOI. Ahead of the East Asia Summit last month, Tamura said, Japan and India also worked together to include cooperation in maritime security in the Summit's priority list.

    Maritime security is likely to figure prominently in PM Narendra Modi's summit meeting with his counterpart Shinzo Abe in Tokyo later this year. The last summit in Delhi saw the two leaders introducing a mention of South China Sea specifically in the India-Japan joint statement.

    Japan is worried that China's aggression in South China Sea in the wake of an international tribunal ruling dismissing Beijing's 9-dash line, which lays claim to almost 90 per cent of SCS waters, will eventually spill over to East China Sea.

    Indeed, even before the ruling, there were signs that China was looking to test the resolve of Japan Coast Guard. A Chinese naval frigate for the first time entered Japan's contiguous zone, which begins where the 12 nautical miles of territorial sea ends, around the Senkaku islands. This was followed within a week by a Chinese spy ship venturing into Japan's territorial sea.

    "Such activities are escalatory in nature but Japan has dealt with these in a calm and resolute manner," said Yasuhisa Kawamura, director-general of press in Japan's foreign ministry, adding that there was no dispute at all over the sovereignty of Senkaku islands.

    The Senkaku islands were incorporated into Japanese territory by Japan in 1895 and placed under the jurisdiction of the country's southernmost Okinawa prefecture. According to Japan, China and Taiwan began to claim sovereignty over the islands only after a discovery of potential oil reserves in the region in 1968.

    At the core of this interest shown in the Senkakus by China and Taiwan, said a Japanese official, was a report by Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) saying that the continental shelf between Taiwan and Japan "may be one of the most prolific oil reservoirs in the world".

    Back in Ishigaki, mayor Nakayama spoke about how tourism was important for a place which was home to 49,000 people and also an important piece of history that validated Japan's claims over Senkakus. He cited a 1920 letter by Chinese consul general in Nagasaki in which the Chinese official, while thanking the Japanese for saving the lives of Chinese fishermen, acknowledged Okinawa's jurisdiction over the islands. The letter is kept locked in the local museum.

    The mayor seemed worried that mainland Japanese people were not paying enough attention to the Senkaku issue. He didn't believe Japan and China would go to war over the islands but added that a "skirmish" was entirely possible. "Japan should express its views on Senkakus. Japan controls these islands and it must do all it can to defend them," he said.


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