Japan has declared its support for the Philippines as it strengthens its claim on territory that is also claimed by China. The Southeast Asian nation had recently filed a 4,000-page claim document – backed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea – before an international tribunal. Japan’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement of support, saying that Manila had Tokyo’s support in its claim for disputed territories in the South China Sea. Japan is also in a long-term dispute with China over the sovereignty of an uninhabited island chain in the East China Sea.
On Monday, Japan’s Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that the Philippines’ move to strengthen its claim is a step towards stability in the region. “The issue with regard to the South China Sea is directly related to the peace and stability of the region and is a common concern of the international community as a whole since the issue influences the international maritime order,” Japan pointed out in its statement. It also emphasized the Japanese government’s support towards the Philippines. “The Government of Japan supports the Philippines’ use of procedures under the UNCLOS aiming at peaceful settlement of disputes on the basis of international law, as such an action contributes to the maintenance and enhancement of the international order in the region based on the rule of law,” the statement declared.
The move from Manila is most likely a response to actions that happened on Saturday, when two Chinese Coast Guard vessels blocked a Philippine civilian ship en route to bring supplies and troops to one of the disputed areas. Recently, there have been some confrontations that have observers concerned that the area might become a flash point in the region. Early this year, a number of confrontations between Chinese military vessels and the Japanese Coast Guard in and around the area of the Senkaku Islands sparked the same feelings of concern in the region.
[via ANC Yahoo]