RECENTLY, China’s provocative actions near the Senkaku Islands have been increasingly intense. Chinese government vessels have navigated almost daily on Japanese contiguous waters off the coast of the Senkaku Islands, with some staying for more than seven hours. Recently, a Chinese aircraft flew over Japan’s sovereign territory.
I wish to share with the readers of the Inquirer Japan’s position on Japan-China relations surrounding the situation of the Senkaku Islands.
First, on Dec. 13, China committed a further dangerous act of a Chinese state aircraft intruding into Japan’s airspace by flying over the Senkaku Islands. This is the first intrusion of this kind, which increases the possibility of a contingency and which escalates the current situation. Based on international law, every state has complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory. China’s intrusion clearly constitutes an unlawful act. Also, any country can take necessary measures to stop an airspace incursion.
While Japan intends to calmly deal with the matter, it will take a firm response to an airspace incursion under domestic laws and regulations. When the incursion occurred on Dec. 13, Japan’s Air Self-Defense Forces took a countermeasure in line with a standard operating procedure that is widely recognized in the international community.
Second, China continues to unilaterally escalate the situation. It is China that is challenging the status quo concerning the Senkaku Islands. Why does China choose to challenge it by coercion and not based on international law? Is this a China that “opposes hegemonism and power politics in all their forms” and that “will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion” (from a report to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party)? Does China want to see Japan-China relations pass the point of no return?
If China further escalates the current situation, Japan will have no choice but to consider its future response with adequate readiness. Japan is deeply concerned that the environment to continue communications between diplomatic authorities of the two countries could be harmed. Japan strongly hopes that China will prove its diplomacy of “peacefully dealing with issues” by its own action.
Third, Japan’s basic position that the Senkaku Islands belong to it is unshakable. At the same time, Japan, as a responsible stakeholder of the region, will deal with the current situation in a calm manner from a broad perspective. In fact, Japan is ready to maintain close communications with China in an effort to ease tensions. Based on the hallmark that Japan has consistently maintained after World War II, Japan, as a peace-loving nation, will continue to contribute to peace and prosperity in Asia.
minister, Embassy of Japan