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

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora