East China Sea dispute: 13 recommendations to prevent crisis between China and Japan

Japanese navy captain Hiraoki Yoshino (podium) speaks while his colleagues and their Philippine counterparts (right) listen during a press conference at Subic bay north of Manila.
Japanese navy captain Hiraoki Yoshino (podium) speaks while his colleagues and their Philippine counterparts (right) listen during a press conference at Subic bay north of Manila.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO - The International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank on Thursday (June 30) issued a report titled East China Sea: Preventing Clashes from Becoming Crises, in which it made 13 recommendations for China and Japan to avoid crisis in the waterway.

They are:

To enable agreement on a maritime and air communication mechanism

1. Both China and Japan are party to the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (Cues). As such, frontline personnel should be instructed to adhere to protocols prescribe d in the code.

2. Concerns about the risk of collision by fishing boats or coast guard vessels in waters around the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands should be discussed at the multi-agency High-Level Consultations on Maritime Affairs forum

3. Vice-ministerial-level defence exchanges should be restarted, along with exchanges between defence universities and research organisations

 
 
 

4. China should delink Diaoyu/Senkaku sovereignty from mechanism negotiations

5. Japan should refrain from comments or actions which suggest revisionist views of history and a departure from its 1995 official apology for World War II aggression

6. Japan should maintain an open dialogue with Beijing over the enhancement of its south-western defences and refrain from negatively publicising China's lawful military activities, such as legitimate overflights and naval transits

To ensure effective implementation

7. The hotline should be kept open at all times, and those manning it must have the authority to reach decision-makers and front-linepersonnel quickly. They should also be able to make decisions to contain and de-escalate crises

8. Front-line operators should be given adequate training, and those who violate the rules should be held accountable

9. Direct contact between front-line troops should be increased to build trust, including through organising mutual naval visits

10. Both countries should agree to address violations first bilaterally, including in defence authority meetings

11. Both countries should consider incorporating guidelines for behaviour within the mechanism

12. Think tanks, research institutes and other countries should host forums that bring parties together for discussions on crisis management and mitigation

13. Multilateral naval exercises on Cues implementation, that involve both China's People's Liberation Army and Japan's Self-Defence Forces, should be organised.