Japan backs PH move in territorial row
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday, May 23 that Japan's new leader supports Manila's elevation of its maritime dispute with China to international arbitration.
DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on May 23 during his two-day visit to Tokyo, where he attended the 19th Nikkei Future of Asia Conference. In the meeting, the DFA said Abe "manifested" the Japanese government’s support for the Philippines’ decision to bring its territorial row with China over the West Philippines Sea to arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The Philippines elevated the case to an ad hoc arbitral panel in UNCLOS in January following China's alleged several incursions in the West Philippines Sea, which is known internationally as South China Sea.
China and the Philippines, along with Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, have territorial claims over South China Sea, which reportedly has rich deposits of mineral and oil resources.
Del Rosario expressed the Philippines’ appreciation for Japan’s support, stressing the crucial role of international law in resolving international disputes "based on a level playing field."
Del Rosario also told the Tokyo audience that while the 2002 adoption of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties on the South China Sea (DOC) - which paves the way for the adoption of a legally-binding code of conduct among claimants of the territory - marks some progress, it "has not resolved the problems on hand."
"... We have the example of one party assertively and aggressively advancing its claims. By the use of arbitration, we would hope to demonstrate that international law is the great equalizer," he said.
"Our arbitration case against China’s over-extended claim represents a choice the world needs to ponder as regards the future order it seeks for itself – either an international system that is largely dominated by force, or one that is significantly characterized by the rule of law."
Rosario's visit to Japan came as Manila condemned China's reported incursion in Ayungin Reef.
The Philippines decried the"provocative and illegal presence" of two China Marine Surveillance (CMS) ships and a frigate near the reef, which were spotted on May 21. - Rappler.com