News / Asia

Japan, Philippines to Combat China’s Assertive Stance at Sea

Philippine Congressman Rodolfo Biazon, left, Chair of the House Committee on National Defense, and Hiroshi Nakada, Head of delegation of the Japanese opposition Party for Future Generations, shake hands shortly after signing a non-binding documents to rea
Philippine Congressman Rodolfo Biazon, left, Chair of the House Committee on National Defense, and Hiroshi Nakada, Head of delegation of the Japanese opposition Party for Future Generations, shake hands shortly after signing a non-binding documents to rea
Simone Orendain

Japanese and Philippine lawmakers in Manila signed an informal agreement Wednesday to form an international body promoting peaceful means to settle disputes in waters where they have competing claims with China.

Members of the two congressional delegations have agreed to push for a “Parliamentarians’ League for Maritime Security in Asia” within their respective legislative bodies. They stress settling territorial disputes and clarifying claims based on international law.

Japan's Representative Hiroshi Nakada led six of his fellow-party members in a visit to the Philippines. Through an interpreter, he reiterated their pitch for avoiding “force or coercion” in staking claims and not doing anything unilaterally that would upset the status quo.

“All of these items are things that nobody in our world, nobody in humanity would likely go against. These are things that we all adhere to as human beings,” Nakada said.

Japan and China have a long-running squabble over a group of rocks called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China in the East China Sea. Tensions between the two countries have steadily intensified in recent years after the Japanese government bought part of the grouping from a private owner. Chinese government ships have been active in the surrounding waters ever since. In November last year, China declared the area above the islands an air defense identification zone, compelling all craft to follow Beijing’s rules when flying there.

The United States military does not recognize the zone and Japan ignores it.

China has sweeping claims in the South China Sea, stating it has “indisputable sovereignty” over more than 80 percent of those resource-rich waters. The Philippines accuses China of encroaching on formations it says are clearly within its exclusive economic zone. In 2012 China all but took control of Scarborough Shoal, keeping Philippine fishermen out.

In recent months, Philippines surveillance photos have shown Chinese reclamation activity on at least four reefs and shoals that the Philippines claims.

Manila filed a case last year with the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague questioning Beijing’s claim to nearly all of the sea. Beijing rejects arbitration and has not responded to the case.

Thirteen members of the Philippine House and the six representatives from Japan signed on to the campaign for the multinational league, but they are all acting individually, not in their capacities as congressmen.

“I emphasize that we need to do this campaign to raise the awareness of nations that there must be a resolution to the dispute and this resolution must be in accordance with the provisions of international law,” said Philippine Congressman Rodolfo Biazon, who heads the House Committee on National Defense and Security.

Apart from the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have competing claims in the South China Sea. In 2002, the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China signed a non-binding agreement to keep things peaceful in the sea.  But China, which prefers one-on-one meetings to sort out claims, has been slow to act.  It only recently called for implementing the terms of the non-binding agreement. Work on a legally binding code of conduct on managing competing claims has been slow-going.

The lawmakers say they hope to get the parliaments of other countries to sign on to the body. Hiroshi says the Japanese delegation is looking at Vietnam as another potential signatory to its campaign.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid