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

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs