JCP issues views and proposal on 'mystery ship' problem

The Japanese Communist Party has published its view and proposal on how Japan should deal with unidentified ships in the seas surrounding Japan.

An "unidentified ship" found and sunk off the Japanese island of Amami-Oshima in the East China Sea last December has made the Japanese people uneasy. This latest incident involved a chase and attack by Japan's Coast Guard.

Shii Kazuo, JCP Executive Committee chair, held a news conference in the Diet Building on January 28 to release the JCP view.

Shii first pointed out that the Japanese Coast Guard's way of dealing with the mystery ship came under criticism both in Japan and abroad.

He said, "This improper government response to the incident must be examined based on international law, and measures used be further examined. The JCP has compiled its views and proposal after hearing from specialists on the law of the sea, Coast Guard staff members, and other authorities concerned."

Referring to the Coast Guard's response to the recent incident, Shii stressed the need to definitely distinguish territorial waters in which Japan's sovereignty resides, from exclusive economic zones (EEZ) to which only part of Japan's economic sovereignty can be applied.

The JCP chair pointed out that what the government is allowed to do in the EEZ are to exercise stricter control on poaching, unauthorized research on resources, and polluting the sea, but nothing else.

Shii said, "For the Coast Guard to argue from the beginning that it identified the ship as a non-fishing boat contradicts the explanation that it cracked down on it for violation of the Fisheries Law.

Pointing to the facts that the agency found the "mystery ship" not within the territorial waters of Japan but in Japan's EEZ, and sunk it in China's EEZ, Shii said that the government response was incorrect in light of the international law.

Then, the JCP chair set forth several proposal for Japan to deal with "mystery ships" as follows:

First, as regards "mystery ships" in Japan's territorial waters, the government should deal with them by strictly applying the existing laws.

Second, as regards such ships in EEZ, it is impossible to regulate them by Japan alone. Rules must be established by Japan, China, South Korea, North Korea, Russia, and other neighboring countries so that joint efforts will be made to deal with them.

Third, police activities on the sea should be exclusively assigned to the Coast Guard.

The JCP is opposed to any attempt to make use of the incident in order to increase the operational coverage by the Self-Defense Forces and to establish wartime laws, Shii stressed. (end)