Manila, Tokyo urge Beijing to respect law

MANILA • Japan and the Philippines have joined forces to call on China to observe the rule of law in resolving maritime disputes after an international tribunal rejected Beijing's claims to most of the South China Sea.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met his counterpart Perfecto Yasay Jr in the southern Philippine city of Davao where both pledged to work closely to boost maritime security while facing separate sea disputes with China.

"We have agreed that in the pursuit of the solution to the conflict in the maritime area, it is important to base ourselves on the rule of law and resort to peaceful means and not the use of force or coercion," Mr Kishida said yesterday, referring to the arbitral tribunal's finding published last month.

"We invoke and urge China to make sure that maritime security and the rule of law must completely and uncompromisingly be respected," Mr Yasay said in his statement.

Japan and China are locked in a long-running dispute over uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, while Manila and Beijing have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

Tensions over the disputes have mounted since the tribunal's decision, with China angrily rejecting it and announcing penalties for "illegal" fishing in its waters including the disputed areas.

"We have the same experience in the East China Sea and the South China Sea with respect to certain actions that use force, intimidation, provocation in order to assert one's claim over a particular territory," said Mr Yasay.

Mr Kishida said Japan, while not a claimant in the South China Sea, would continue to cooperate closely with "relevant countries" for the peaceful resolution of maritime rows. He pledged continued Japanese aid to the Philippines to boost its maritime security capabilities.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2016, with the headline 'Manila, Tokyo urge Beijing to respect law'. Print Edition | Subscribe