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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 March 3 - 9  > Japan should refrain from actions that increase tension following passage of China’s Coast Guard Law
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2021 March 3 - 9 [POLITICS]

Japan should refrain from actions that increase tension following passage of China’s Coast Guard Law

March 3, 2021

Akahata ‘current’ column

It was a month ago that China implemented the Coast Guard Law allowing the nation’s Coast Guard to use arms. Since then, the number of Chinese official vessels which caused territorial waters violations near the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in Okinawa has been increasing at the fastest pace in the past five years, reaching 14.

China’s Ministry of National Defense has justified this by claiming that as the Senkaku Islands (called Diaoyu Islands in Chinese) are China’s inherit territory, official vessels are exercising law enforcement activities within China’s territorial waters. If the logic behind this claim was acceptable, the use of arms against the Japanese coast guard engaging in policing activities near the disputed islands would become possible.

Meanwhile, Japan’s response to this situation is worrisome. The Suga government recently indicated its position that it is possible for the Japan Coast Guard to directly fire at foreign vessels intruding into Japan’s territorial waters. The government insisted that it follows the conventional position. However, such an act of aggression is permissible only for self-defense. Is it allowable for the Coast Guard to fire at foreign ships that enter Japanese territorial waters but show no intent to use force?

China’s act of designating the Senkaku Islands as its territory and allowing the use of weapons near the islands has no legitimacy. Such an act clearly goes against international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which strictly stipulates the rights of coastal countries. The Japanese government should present this argument in the international community.

However, the Suga government showed an unwillingness to even accuse China for not abiding by international law. The Suga administration should rethink its weak-kneed diplomacy toward China and stop strengthening the Coast Guard powers in order to avoid creating a vicious circle of increasing tension leading to military responses.

Past related article:
> China should rescind its Coast Guard Law [February 24, 2021]
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