Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko has assailed China for ignoring the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 arbitral ruling in The Hague, the Neitherlands that dismissed Beijing’s expansive claim to most territories in the South China Sea.
Koshikawa also deplored what he called “unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force” in the East China Sea where Japan and China have conflicting claims.
“While the world was still recovering from the pandemic, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine broke out. We all have to bear in mind that no country or region in the world can or should shrug this off as ‘someone else’s problem.’ It is a situation that shakes the very foundations of the international order,” Koshikawa said in a speech at a reception marking the 68th year of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.
“Turning our eyes to the South China Sea, is international law really being respected? Neither international law, in particular the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which all relevant parties agreed after years of dialogue and tireless efforts, nor the 2016 award rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal under the said Convention, is being complied with,” the envoy noted.
“Meanwhile in the East China Sea, where Japan is located, we also see the continuation of unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, which is in violation of international law. Japan is taking a firm stance against such attempts,” he added.
The Japanese diplomat was eyeing stronger defense cooperation with the Philippines under the Marcos administration, “in order to achieve a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ based on the rule of law.”
Newly designated Defense Secretary Jose Faustino Jr. represented Manila at the event.
Koshikawa underscored the importance of close cooperation “among like-minded countries bonded by such universal values and principles as freedom, democracy, and the rule of law” given a regional security environment that “is becoming more testing and uncertain.”
“This is why the Philippines is one of our most reliable partners. We are pleased to note that the bilateral relations between Japan and the Philippines have gone to great lengths in a variety of fields, including security and defense cooperation. From rescue and relief operations, to capacity-building activities, as well as knowledge and equipment transfers, Japan stands ready to come to the aid of the Philippines in times of need,” Koshikawa said.
The envoy cited a number of activities that the two countries have undertaken to strengthen defense ties, including the
participation of the Japan Self-Defense Forces in exercises and trainings to the AFP, strengthening cooperation on Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) missions, transfer of aircrafts, spare parts, and conclusion of a contract in 2020 for the delivery of four Air Surveillance Radar Systems to the Philippine Air Force, to improve the Philippines’ warning and surveillance capabilities.
“Significantly, this was the first transfer of completed defense equipment from Japan to a foreign country. I understand that the construction is progressing smoothly as scheduled and hope to see the brand new radar placed soon this year,” Koshikawa said.