Plunge Pontificates

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Japan Unreasonable When it Comes to Territorial Disputes

A rather scathing look at Japan's stands when it comes to territorial disputes.

Tokyo's propensity for getting into territorial and maritime boundary disputes with its neighbors seems large. And if the disputes with China escalate any further, they could make the recent confrontation with South Korea over the Takeshima islets (Dokdo in Korean) look tame.
The article then goes on to show how Japan basically takes whatever position is in its own best interests, even it is completely contradictory to positions it has taken earlier or with other territorial disputes. Here is a small sample:

An even stronger precedent was created by Tokyo itself in its 1974 maritime border agreement with South Korea. Both sides used to have rival equidistance and continental shelf claims for their maritime border south of Cheju island, with Seoul's continental shelf claim extending close to Japanese territory. Then in 1974 both sides agreed to disagree, and to decide the matter some time in the future -- the year 2028 was mentioned. In the meantime they agreed to joint development in the area between the two claimed lines, just as China has sought in the East China Sea.

That 1974 agreement was confirmed as late as August 2002, with an agreement for an oil co-exploration project on the continental shelf between the two nations. This was in accord with the 1982 UNCLOS, which says specifically that in cases of disagreement "the States concerned shall make every effort to enter into provisional arrangements of a practical nature." Tokyo's hardline approach today toward China would seem to contradict that principle.

Ironically, as late as 1994, Tokyo agreed to joint fisheries exploitation with China and South Korea in the East China Sea pending what it then agreed was the need for final EEZ delimitations. But today it insists that the Japan-China EEZ boundary has indeed been delimited -- not by negotiation but by unilateral fiat.

Tokyo takes an equally hard line in its Senkaku Islands dispute with Beijing -- a dispute in which both Beijing's and Taiwan's claims are not without validity. They would have even more validity under Beijing's continental shelf approach.

In its insistence that it is entitled to a 200 nautical-mile EEZ in every direction from a minuscule and remote Pacific rock it calls Okinotori Island, Tokyo's EEZ preoccupation gets out of control. Apart from anything else, it flies in the face of Article 121 (3) of UNCLOS, which states clearly that small rocks and even uninhabited islands cannot have an EEZ.
Japan's audacity would be humorous if it wasn't for the potential for serious international disputes, even military confrontation.

The next part seems to cover those right-wing-nutcase-japan-is-perfect netizens that we see so often.

As we have seen in the commentary following the Takeshima confrontation, Japanese public opinion seems unable to comprehend that there can be two sides to a dispute, especially when territory is involved. The media and the commentators take it for granted that Japan's claims are totally correct and the other side is being quite unreasonable. Even the supposedly impartial NHK forgets to use the word "claimed" when it reports these disputes. The potential for more ugly confrontations continues.
Japan is perfect. Every claim Japan makes is the truth. How dare anyone disagree with anything Japan does. Yes master...