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Japan Gets Involved In South China Sea Territorial Dispute

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Japan Gets Involved In South China Sea Territorial Dispute
« on: March 13, 2015, 05:32:05 PM »
Japan Gets Involved In South China Sea Territorial Dispute: Tokyo Offers Maritime Support To Philippines, Vietnam
By  Michelle FlorCruz @mflorcruz [email protected] on March 11 2015 5:04 PM EDT



A Chinese coast guard vessel patrols near the BRP Sierra Madre, a marooned transport ship employed as a military outpost by Filipino marines, in the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, on March 30, 2014. Reuters/Erik De Castro


China and several Southeast Asian nations are currently embroiled in a territorial and maritime dispute in the South China Sea over an area that includes a cluster of resource-rich islands and important trade routes. As China’s presence in the area becomes harder to ignore, Japan has quietly begun forging security ties with Chinese geopolitical adversaries.

According to a report by Reuters, Tokyo will be involved in joint training exercises with Vietnam and the naval military of the Philippines. The two countries have been China’s biggest challengers when it comes to vocalizing their own sovereignty claims in the region. Tokyo has reportedly offered 10 coast guard boats in the area ahead of what will be the first joint naval exercises between the Philippines and Japan in upcoming months. The two countries forged a security pact in Tokyo in January that also confirmed regular meetings between vice ministers regarding defense. Additionally, Tokyo military medical professionals have offered help in advising Vietnamese submariners on avoiding decompression sickness.

Though Japan doesn’t have a vested interest in the South China Sea, it does have experience in dealing with China when it comes to disputed territories. China and Japan both lay claim to a cluster of islands in the East China Sea known as the Diaoyu (Chinese) and the Senkaku (Japanese). The islands have been a point of contention between the two governments and the problem has proliferated to also become a dispute between citizens. Though it seems like China is taking on most of Asia when it comes to its territorial claims, China’s military prowess in the region outnumbers most of its neighbors by a long shot.

Japan’s increased involvement reflects calls made by U.S. military officials earlier this year. “I think allies, partners and friends in the region will look to the Japanese more and more as a stabilizing function,” Adm. Robert Thomas, commander of the Seventh Fleet and the top U.S. naval officer in Asia, said in a separate Reuters report. “In the South China Sea, frankly, the Chinese fishing fleet, the Chinese coast guard and the [navy] overmatch their neighbors.”

China’s control over the area, in the form of dredging to erect a man-made island in the middle of the disputed Spratly Islands, overshadows attempts made by the Philippines to go to international courts in The Hague, Netherlands, to settle the dispute.

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Re: Japan Gets Involved In South China Sea Territorial Dispute
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2015, 10:19:01 PM »
Testing Beijing, Tokyo eyes growing role in South China Sea
Philippine Star – 14 hours ago


TOKYO — Seventy years after its imperial forces were kicked out of the South China Sea, Japan is quietly moving back into the region, forging security ties with the Philippines and Vietnam as both South-east Asian nations try to cope with China’s territorial ambitions.

Tokyo’s security cooperation is broad-based: It is supplying maritime patrol boats to the two countries while Japan will hold its first naval exercises with the Philippines in the coming months.

Japanese military doctors are even advising Vietnamese submariners on how to deal with decompression sickness.

Japan is providing this help, and more, in a calibrated escalation of involvement to avoid a backlash from Beijing, said Japanese sources.

Manila and Hanoi are the two capitals most at odds with Beijing over the South China Sea. Japan itself is embroiled in a bitter row with China over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, further to the north. Tokyo has no territorial claims in the South China Sea, but worries about becoming isolated should China dominate a waterway through which much of Japan’s ship-borne trade passes.

Japan’s assistance follows a speech last May by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who said Tokyo would help South-east Asia maintain freedom of navigation and over flight in the region.

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Re: Japan Gets Involved In South China Sea Territorial Dispute
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2015, 10:21:32 PM »
The cooperation is also in line with a more muscular security policy advocated by Abe, who wants to loosen the restraints of Japan’s pacifist postwar constitution, and dovetails with Washington’s “pivot” towards Asia.

“The trend is becoming clear and I don’t think they (Japan) are going to back down from it, despite Chinese concerns,” said Ian Storey, a regional security expert at Singapore’s Institute of South East Asian Studies.

China’s Foreign Ministry said it hoped Japan would “speak and act cautiously” over the South China Sea, adding Tokyo was not a party to the dispute.

During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Navy operated submarines from the Spratly archipelago in the heart of the South China Sea. China is now creating artificial islands from reefs and atolls in the disputed Spratlys so fast that Beijing will be able to extend the range of its navy and air force before long, experts say.

Some experts believe the new islands will allow China to create and police an air defense identification zone (ADIZ), where planes would have to identify themselves to Chinese authorities, although Beijing has routinely denied such speculation.

China sparked condemnation from Tokyo, Washington and Canberra when it imposed an ADIZ above the East China Sea in late 2013. While the militaries from both countries have ignored that zone, it might not be so easy for smaller Southeast Asian nations to do so should one exist in the South China Sea.

“An ADIZ would be a catastrophe. It would severely limit air and maritime activity,” a senior Japanese policymaker said on condition of anonymity.


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Re: Japan Gets Involved In South China Sea Territorial Dispute
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2015, 10:21:51 PM »
The planned joint naval exercises off the Philippines are part of a security agreement signed in Tokyo in January, which also outlined regular vice-ministerial defense talks and exchanges of senior officers.

The first of 10 coastguard vessels Japan is building for the Philippines will be delivered by the year’s end. Japan might also fund infrastructure improvements around a Philippine military base on Palawan Island, one of the closest major land masses to the Spratlys, said a Japanese source with knowledge of the plan.

The Philippine armed forces spokesman, Col. Restituto Padilla, applauded Tokyo’s engagement, adding it would be “natural for Japan and the Philippines to join forces to help each other secure these sea lanes”.

Japan has not gone that far, although Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said last month that a policy of not sending patrol aircraft over the South China Sea might need to be reviewed, given the importance of the waterway to Tokyo.

Nakatani’s comments came after a top US Navy officer said Washington would welcome Japanese air patrols in the region.

Vietnam’s government did not immediately comment on Japan’s assistance, which will include six used navy patrol boats for Hanoi as well as advice on treating decompression illness as Vietnam takes possession of additional sophisticated submarines from Russia.

“There are a lot of other things the Vietnamese want,” said a Japanese Defense Ministry source, without elaborating.  - Reuters

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