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

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs