THE Japanese ambassador to the Philippines on Tuesday said that both countries will have an “exchange of notes” in discussing probable solutions to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) territorial dispute.
Japanese Ambassador to Manila Toshinao Urabe admitted that both governments will discuss the political tension in the contested waters when President Benigno Aquino III visits Japan from September 25 to 28.
“We will see what we can do under the international system,” Urabe said during a press briefing at the Japanese embassy in Roxas Blvd., Pasay City (Metro Manila).
“We want a peaceful resolution [of the dispute] under the framework of the international law,” he added.
Urabe admitted that Japan also has an “interest” in maintain peace and stability of the contested waters, especially since “a lot of traffic goes in that area.”
“We would like to see a code of conduct . . . legally binding, yes,” the envoy said, praising the decision of China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) during a recent regional meeting to come up with guidelines that would implement the code.
“We remain firm on our stand that we need to find a peaceful resolution that will ensure freedom of sea routes,” he added.
But Urabe stressed that Japan’s adherence to Philippine call that the dispute must be settled within the provisions of existing maritime international laws doesn’t mean Tokyo is siding with Manila.
He said that China will remain a very important partner for both Japan and the Philippines, and that Tokyo’s interest in the region is merely to ensure the continuance of economic activities.
Manila planned to bring the territorial dispute before the United Nations-backed International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas (ITLOS), but Beijing is adamant it will only talk with claimant countries on a bilateral level.
Over the past months, the Philippine government lodged diplomatic protests regarding several Chinese intrusions in Manila’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), whose territorial jurisdiction falls on certain parts of the disputed Spratly Islands.
Purportedly rich in oil and mineral reserves, the Spratly Islands is a group is islets, reefs and atolls that are being claimed in whole by China and in part by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam.
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