Japan backs Phl’s peaceful settlement of dispute in West Philippine Sea

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Japan's top envoy, Koshikawa Kazuhiko lauded the 2016 arbitral award and called it a significant milestone to realizing rule of law at sea. (Photo from THEPHILBIZNEWS/MAS)

Calls for free and open Indo-Pacific and maintain law-based international order

By Monsi A. Serrano

As China remains adamant in its position that the arbitral ruling made seven years ago by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in favor of the Philippines was “illegal, null and void”, several countries rallied behind the Philippines and asked Beijing to let the rule of law prevail.

Speaking at the Stratbase ADR Institute International Conference on The 7th Year of the Arbitral Victory in the West Philippine Sea, on July 12, Japan’s top envoy to the Philippines, Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko said that the 2016 arbitral award was a significant milestone for realizing the rule of law. He also reiterated the position of other world leaders during the G7 Summit held at Hiroshima about the need for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea so prosperity will continue citing the dynamic coupling at the sea particularly in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

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Ambassador Kozhikawa reiterated that Japan will contribute to the enhancement of the connectivity in the Indo Pacific region and value freedom that would pave the way for growth through dialogue and cooperation, equal partnership among nations regardless of the size of the country and without falling into geopolitical competition.

“Instead of unipolar, bipolar or multipolar approach, focusing on the people, creating necessary conditions for the survival, welfare, live with dignity of individual people, anywhere in the world, while respecting diversity and inclusiveness among countries,” Koshikawa underscored.

He also lauded the cooperation of other countries like United States, Australia, India, United Kinddom, the EU and ASEAN countries in strengthening the partnership that promotes regional stability and prosperity.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa released a statement in support to the Philippines seven years after the issuance of the Arbitral Tribunal’s award. Below is the full statement:

(Statement by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa) 

  1. Today, seven years have passed since the issuance of the Arbitral Tribunal’s award as to the disputes between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China regarding the South China Sea. As the Tribunal’s award is final and legally binding on the parties to the dispute under the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the parties to this case, the Philippines and China, are required to comply with the award. The claim by China that it will not accept the award is against the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, in particular UNCLOS, and undermines the rule of law as a fundamental value of the international community. Japan strongly hopes that the parties’ compliance with the award will lead to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea. 
  2. Upholding and reinforcing the free and open international order based on the rule of law will be the benefit of all countries, large and small. Based on this recognition, Japan highly appreciates the Government of the Philippines for having consistently complied with the award, and shown its commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea including through the statement of Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique A. Manalo issued in July 2022 regarding the award. 
  3. Japan renews its objection to maritime claims in the South China Sea that are inconsistent with UNCLOS and remains seriously concerned about the current situation. Recalling that the Japan-Philippines Joint Statement issued in February 2023, G7 Hiroshima Leaders’ Communiqué in May 2023 and G7 Foreign Ministers’ Communiqué in April 2023 underscored the importance of the free and open international order based on the rule of law, Japan reiterates its strong opposition to unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion. 
  4. Japan will continue working in coordination with ASEAN and other countries concerned to maintain and strengthen the free and open international order based on the rule of law. 

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