Posts Tagged ‘Takeshima’

Japan lodges protest with Seoul over South Korean survey ship activity near disputed islets

August 3, 2018

Japan has lodged protests with South Korea for operating a survey ship in Japanese territorial waters around a group of Sea of Japan islets disputed by the two countries, the top government spokesman said Friday.

Japan demanded twice that South Korea explain the ship’s activities around the Tokyo-claimed, Seoul-controlled islets after it entered the waters on both Wednesday and Thursday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, water and outdoor

South Korean ocean research ship M/V  ISABU

The long-standing dispute over the rocky islets called Takeshima in Japanese and Dokdo in Korean has been a major source of diplomatic tension between the two Asian neighbors.

Image may contain: ocean, outdoor, nature and water
The Takeshima islets, seen here in September 2012, are located in the Sea of Japan off Shimane Prefecture. They are known as Dokdo in Korean. | KYODO

“Survey activity without the agreement of Japan is unacceptable,” Suga said, adding that the vessel has moved out of the waters after warnings by the Japan Coast Guard.

South Korea conducted a similar maritime survey in July 2006, drawing protest from Japan at the time.

Japanese diplomatic experts believe the South Korean action was aimed at strengthening control of the islets, rather than purely investigating fishery resources in the area.


Japan Angry After South Korea Announces “Distasteful Offering” for North Korean Summit — “We have asked that the dessert not be served.”

April 26, 2018


A dessert dish that South Korea plans to serve at Friday’s summit with the North has enraged Japan, which is demanding the “distasteful offering” not be served.

The mango mousse – dubbed “Spring of the People” in a publicity photograph — depicts the small islands known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in Korea — islets whose sovereignty is disputed by Tokyo. They lie in the Sea of Japan, which Seoul refers to as the East Sea.

“It is extremely regrettable,” a Japanese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Wednesday, adding that Japan had lodged a protest about the distasteful offering, according to Reuters. “We have asked that the dessert not be served.”


A blue unified flag of the Koreas that includes Takeshima sits atop the mango mousse to be served at the dinner reception after the Korean summit scheduled for April 27. (Provided by the South Korean Office of the President)

Japan complained to South Korea about fans waving a flag with a similar design at a recent friendly women’s ice hockey game at the Winter Paralympics between the combined Koreas team and Sweden.

The bitter controversy comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in prepare to meet to discuss Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program on Friday.

Relations between the Koreas and Japan have long been strained by territorial disputes and simmering resentment over Japanese colonization of the Korean peninsula in the first half of last century.

Tokyo has also protested against the erection of statues commemorating Korean women and girls forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War II.

Seoul says that Tokyo has yet to apologize for its wartime actions.

But Moon and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have vowed to present a united front and exert pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.

The North-South summit in the village of Panmunjom is expected to be followed by a meeting between Kim and President Trump in May or June.

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South Korea criticizes Japan over disputed island claims in textbooks

March 30, 2018


© SOUTH KOREAN NAVY/AFP/File | A South Korean warship conducts an operation in 2013 near the tiny chain of rocky islands known as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, in the Sea of Japan (East Sea)

SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea summoned Tokyo’s ambassador on Friday to protest over new educational guidelines requiring high school students to be taught that disputed islands belong to Japan.

Seoul has controlled the islets in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) since 1945, when Tokyo’s brutal colonial rule on the peninsula ended.

Tokyo also claims the islands, known in Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan, accusing Seoul of occupying them illegally.

South Korea and Japan are both market economies, democracies and US allies, and both are threatened by nuclear-armed North Korea, but their relationship is heavily strained by historical and territorial issues.

Tokyo on Friday approved guidelines requiring high school textbooks and teachers to tell pupils that the islands are Japan’s, mirroring measures applied last year in elementary and middle schools.

The guidelines, which are available on the ministry’s website, say schools should “introduce issues involving our country’s territories, such as the Takeshima islands and Northern Territories, being our country’s own territories”.

The assertion was “unjustifiable”, Seoul’s foreign ministry said in a statement, saying Dokdo was an “inalienable” part of South Korea’s territory.

“We strongly condemn it and sternly call for its immediate withdrawal,” it added, saying Tokyo was trying to “instil a distorted historical perception about Dokdo into future generations”.

Japan is embroiled in a separate dispute with China over another set of islands, about which the guidelines said schools should “cover the Senkaku islands as our country’s own territories and that there is no issue of territorial sovereignty to be resolved”.

Seoul and Tokyo tried to resolve a long-running feud over Japan’s wartime sexual slavery of Korean women with an inter-government agreement in 2015.

The controversy of the so-called comfort women — those forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops during World War II — has marred relations between the two countries for decades.

Earlier this month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Japan cannot unilaterally declare the issue “over”, repeating calls for Tokyo to apologise.

Japan has protested against changing the deal, which was agreed to by Moon’s predecessor Park Geun-hye, saying any attempt to modify or scrap it could negatively affect relations.

South Korean president lashes out at Japan over ‘comfort women’ issue

March 1, 2018

South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech in Seoul on Thursday, during a ceremony celebrating the 99th anniversary of the independence movement against Japanese colonial rule. | REUTERS


MAR 1, 2018

South Korean President Moon Jae-in urged Tokyo on Thursday to act on the basis of remorse and reconciliation when managing bilateral ties and acknowledge the historical truth about women forced to provide sex for Japanese troops before and during World War II.

Amid tension between Seoul and Tokyo over the future of a 2015 bilateral agreement on the “comfort women” issue, Moon described the women’s treatment as an inhumane crime and said that Japan, “the perpetrator, must not declare (that the issue) is over.” Moon made the remarks in a speech at an annual ceremony commemorating a movement for Korean independence during Japanese colonial rule.

“I do not seek special treatment from Japan,” Moon said. “I ask only that (Japan) walk alongside us into the future on the basis of heartfelt remorse and reconciliation, befitting our closest neighbor.”

A statue of a girl symbolizing Korean “comfort women” is unveiled during a ceremony in front of the Japanese Consulate in Busan, South Korea.

The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images

Moon’s administration has taken issue with the way in which the comfort women agreement was negotiated under his impeached predecessor Park Geun-hye, and has requested that the Japanese government take further action. Japan maintains the existing agreement is valid, noting that the issue being considered “finally and irreversibly” resolved was a condition of the pact.

In Tokyo, the government’s top spokesman said Japan had lodged a diplomatic protest over Moon’s remarks. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga described Moon’s comments as “extremely regrettable.” Suga, speaking at a regular briefing, also urged cooperation between South Korea and Japan to tackle North Korea.

Under the 2015 deal, Japan paid ¥1 billion ($9.4 million) to a South Korean foundation set up to support former comfort women while South Korea said it would “strive to solve” the issue of a statue commemorating comfort women in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul that Japan wants relocated.

Speaking Thursday, Moon also reiterated South Korea’s sovereignty over a group of islets it administers in the Sea of Japan.

He said Japan’s continued claim over the islets amounts to a denial of its history. The rocky islets are called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese.

The government-organized ceremony was held in a former prison in Seoul to commemorate the nationwide independence movement that began on March 1, 1919. Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

Yuki Asaba, professor and Korea expert at the University of Niigata Prefecture, said it was fair for Japan to strongly protest a speech that further discussed an issue previously said to have been “finally and irreversibly” resolved. But he added that South Korea’s intention may not necessarily have been to seek renegotiation or reversal of the 2015 agreement.

Asaba noted that Moon’s remarks are the “toughest” he has used toward Japan since Seoul announced in January a new policy on the 2015 agreement, which asked for a voluntary apology from Japan, and could be related to a historical view that South Korea’s roots go back to 1919 when a provisional government was launched there. Conservative lawmakers in South Korea claim that the country was founded in 1948, after World War II.

“If (Moon’s view) is that the country was founded in 1919,” that would mean he sees Japan’s occupation of Korea “as a forcible occupation,” Asaba said.

On Tuesday, the city of Seoul claimed that a team of South Korean scholars and researchers had discovered videos and photos of the scene of a 1944 massacre by Japanese troops of South Korean comfort women during World War II.

South Korean media said the video, which had been kept in the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, was the first to be found that captured the massacre of comfort women.

The video and pictures appear to show corpses of women in a hole in the ground.

Seoul claimed that the videographer had been identified, but did not describe how it was determined that the victims were comfort women.

Japan to assert greater control over privately owned land on remote islands

November 26, 2017


The government will soon begin contemplating steps to enhance control over all privately owned land on remote islands to bolster national security and protect resources within the nation’s territorial waters, a source with the government said.

The government plans to set up a panel in fiscal 2018 starting next April to discuss land registration by owners who have neglected to do so, and imposing restrictions on land sales to foreign people in such areas, the source said Saturday.

The government is concerned that leaving land out of its control could raise security concerns or other issues, such as foreign people setting up bases from which to engage in fish poaching.

According to the Cabinet Office, there are about 480 remote islands along the perimeter of the nation’s border, excluding the South Korean-held group of islets in the Sea of Japan called Takeshima by Japan and Dokdo by South Korea, and the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido.

Of those islands, the government — beginning early next fiscal year — plans to look at 98 with privately owned land and will determine how many have lots whose owners are unknown, the source said.

Many of those 98 islands are in the Pacific Ocean or within the administrative boundaries of Kagoshima or Okinawa prefectures.

The source said the ownership of land becomes uncertain when those who inherit remote properties fail to complete land registration procedures. In some cases, the registered land owner has remained unchanged for 100 years.

The acquisition of land on remote islands by foreigners is also a concern for the government. In 2013, ruling party lawmakers questioned the purchase by a South Korean company of land near a Maritime Self-Defense Force facility on Tsushima Island in Nagasaki Prefecture.

During parliamentary deliberation in October 2016, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the acquisition of land in sensitive areas by non-Japanese is “an important issue concerning national security.”

Under the national security strategy decided in 2013, the government vowed to “proactively engage in the protection” of remote islands near national borders to ensure Japan’s “territorial integrity.”

As of the end of last March, the government had declared 273 uninhabited islands as national property.

Territorial issues concerning far-flung islands first began to gain national prominence after Tokyo’s dispute with Beijing over the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands blew up in 2010, when a Chinese fishing trawler collided with two Japan Coast Guard boats in the waters near the islands.

In 2012, the Democratic Party of Japan-led government effectively nationalized the uninhabited islands by purchasing three of them from the private Japanese owner.

China and Taiwan, however, also claim the islands, which they call Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively.

China, South Korea expresses deep regret as Japan leaders pay tribute at wartime shrine including convicted war criminals

August 15, 2016



Monday, 15 August 2016 07:12 GMT
Most Popular

* New Defence Minister avoids Yasukuni visit, PM sends offering

* Emperor expresses “deep remorse” over war

* South Korea expresses “deep concern and regret” (Recasts with South Korean reaction, details, paragraphs 1, 4-6, 14)

By Kento Sahara and Nobuhiro Kubo

TOKYO, Aug 15 (Reuters) – South Korea expressed deep regret on Monday after dozens of Japanese lawmakers visited a shrine for war dead, which Seoul and Beijing see as a symbol of Tokyo’s wartime militarism, on the anniversary of Japan’s World War Two defeat.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering but did not personally go to the Yasukuni Shrine. Visits to the shrine outrage Japan’s Asian neighbours because it honours 14 Japanese leaders convicted by an Allied tribunal as war criminals, along with war dead.

Ties between China and Japan, Asia’s two largest economies, have been strained in recent days after a growing number of Chinese coastguard and other government ships sailed near disputed islets in the East China Sea.

Territory disputes and historical issues also periodically chill relations between Japan and South Korea.

“(We) express deep concern and regret that responsible political leaders … are again paying tribute to the Yasukuni Shrine that glorifies the history of the war of aggression,” South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said a morning visit by South Korean lawmakers to a disputed set of islands, known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea, was “extremely regrettable” and that Japan would protest strongly.

Abe has not visited the shrine in person since December 2013, sending ritual offerings instead.

“He told me to come and my visit was out of respect to those who gave their lives for the country,” said Yasutoshi Nishimura, an aide in Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), who gave the offering in Abe’s name as LDP president rather than premier.

New Defence Minister Tomomi Inada, who has been accused by China of recklessly misrepresenting history after she declined to say whether Japanese troops massacred civilians in China during World War Two, was visiting troops in Djibouti and unable able to go to the shrine as she has in the past.


Emperor Akihito, speaking at a ceremony honouring victims of the war, expressed “deep remorse” over the conflict fought in the name of his father, Hirohito. He first used the phrase at the memorial service last year on the 70th anniversary of the war’s end. Some saw it as a subtle rebuke to the conservative Abe, who favours a less apologetic tone.

“Reflecting on our past with a feeling of deep remorse, I earnestly hope the ravages of war will never be repeated,” said Akihito, 82. The emperor hinted in a rare video address last week at wanting to abdicate in a few years.

Abe vowed at the same ceremony that Japan would work for world peace.

“Going forward, and sticking to this firm pledge while facing history with humility, we will make every effort to contribute to world peace and prosperity and the realization of a world where everyone can live without fear,” he said.

Among the roughly 70 lawmakers who visited the Shrine were Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi and Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa. (Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Takaya Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Nataly Pak in SEOUL; Writing by Elaine Lies and Linda Sieg,; Editing by Paul Tait)


Tuesday, August 09, 2016 12:12 PM

Hiroshima Marks the 70th Anniversary of Atomic Bomb ( Source- Getty images)

Hiroshima Marks the Anniversary of Atomic Bomb 

Tokyo :The Japanese city of Nagasaki on Tuesday marked 71 years since its destruction by a US atomic bomb, with its mayor lauding a visit by US President Barack Obama to Hiroshima earlier this year.

A bell tolled as thousands of people, including ageing survivors and relatives of victims, observed a minute’s silence at 11:02 am (0732 IST), the exact moment the of the blast.

The attack came three days after the US dropped the first ever atomic bomb on Hiroshima, which ultimately killed 140,000 people.

Some 74,000 people died in the initial explosion, while thousands of others perished months or years later from radiation sickness.

Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue lauded Obama’s landmark May visit to Hiroshima — the first ever by a sitting US president. “Knowing the facts becomes the starting point for thinking about a future free of nuclear weapons,” Taue said, calling on other world leaders to visit his city.

Japan — A young girl looks at candle-lit paper lanterns with written message at Nagasaki Peace Park on the eve ahead of the 71st anniversary activities.

Local officials and those who survived the bombing called for strict adherence to Japan’s post-war tradition of pacifism and were critical of the Japanese government. “The government of Japan, while advocating nuclear weapons abolition, still relies on nuclear deterrence,” the mayor said, calling it a “contradictory state of affairs”.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in his address in Nagasaki, called on world leaders to honor the global Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. “We must not allow a repeat of the horrible experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that happened 71 years ago,” Abe said.

Abe has moved to extend the scope of Japan’s military and deepen the nation’s alliance with Washington in the face of threats from China’s expanding military strength and unpredictable North Korea. North Korea last week test fired a ballistic missile that landed in waters off Japan’s coast for the first time.

First Published: Tuesday, August 09, 2016 12:01 PM

Japan PM picks nationalist Tomomi Inada as defence chief

August 3, 2016


© AFP | New Japanese Defence Minister Tomomi Inada answers questions from reporters in Tokyo on August 3, 2016

TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday picked a close confidante with staunchly nationalist views as the new defence minister, a move likely to raise concerns in China and South Korea.

Lawyer-turned-politician Tomomi Inada, 57, was formerly policy chief of Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and shares his hawkish views on Japan’s 20th-century history.

She becomes the second woman to oversee the defence ministry after Yuriko Koike, who served briefly in 2007 and was elected governor of Tokyo on Sunday.

Inada, a four-term lawmaker who replaces Gen Nakatani, was named to the post as part of a partial cabinet after the LDP’s big win in upper house parliamentary elections last month.

Her appointment came on the same day North Korea, a major security headache for Japan, fired a ballistic missile that landed just 250 kilometres (155 miles) off its coast — hitting Japanese-controlled waters for the first time.

Inada, a mother of two, has a history of irritating Asian neighbours such as China and South Korea.

She has been a regular visitor to Tokyo’s contentious Yasukuni war shrine and has played a leading role in an LDP study group launched last year to review Japan’s history, reportedly taking up controversial issues such as the Nanjing massacre and the Tokyo war crimes trials.

In 2011 she and two other conservative Japanese politicians had planned to visit Ulleung island, the closest South Korean territory to the Seoul-controlled Dokdo islands in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), which are known in Japan as Takeshima.

They flew to a Seoul airport to push Tokyo’s claim to the disputed islands and refused to fly back home for hours after their entry to South Korea was denied.

Japan is also embroiled in long-running territorial disputes with China and Russia.

Inada appeared to take a careful approach in initial remarks Wednesday.

“I will give my utmost in order to ensure peace and security by cooperating with nations that share interests and values,” she told reporters, specifically citing Japan’s security alliance with the United States.

Asked whether she planned to visit the Yasukuni Shrine on August 15, the anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender, she declined to give a straight answer, saying that such a decision is a “matter of the heart”.

In the cabinet revamp announced by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Abe left most key posts untouched. Fumio Kishida, the foreign minister, and Taro Aso, finance minister and deputy prime minister, were among those keeping their jobs.

Abe also tapped Suga, his right-hand man, to stay on.

Besides Inada, other new picks include Hiroshige Seko for economy, trade and industry minister and previous environment minister Tamayo Marukawa as the minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

South Korea, Japan resume annual defense talks

August 6, 2015


Seoul (AFP) —South Korea and Japan Wednesday resumed their annual defense dialogue, after last year’s meeting was cancelled due to diplomatic strains over historical and territorial disputes.

Seoul’s defence ministry said the bilateral meeting — held every year since 1994 except for 2014 — began in Seoul between delegations led by Yoon Soon-Gu, director general of international policy at Seoul’s defense ministry, and his Japanese counterpart Atsuo Suzuki.

The officials discussed North Korea as well as Japan’s recent moves to revise its pacifist constitution, a defense ministry spokesman said.

Seoul reacted negatively to Japan’s proposal for the signing of new bilateral accords on military information and logistical support, he said.

South Korea also expressed concern about the possibility of Japan exercising the doctrine of “collective self-defense” around the Korean peninsula without its consent.

Tokyo is trying to expand the role of its military so that it can come to the aid of allies who are under attack.

Ties between the Asian neighbours have been in the doldrums for several years, with South Korea insisting that Japan apologize and make amends for abuses during its 1910-45 rule over the Korean peninsula.

In particular, it wants Tokyo to address the issue of Korean women forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.

Japan insists the issue of the so-called “comfort women” was settled in a 1965 agreement that restored diplomatic ties.

The two countries are also at odds over ownership of the sparsely populated Dokdo islets — known as Takeshima in Japan — that sit in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

Recent moves by Japan’s hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to strengthen his country’s military and expand its role have been watched extremely warily in South Korea.

Time For China To Embrace Our Best Asian and International Practice: Dispute Settlement By Rule of Law and With Arbitration if Necessary

June 10, 2015

States in South and South-east Asia have settled disputes through the international legal process. China should do likewise, and consider consensual methods such as mediation.

The Straits Times

China has refused to participate in an arbitration launched by the Philippines regarding their disputes in the South China Sea. Japan has refused to acknowledge that it has a dispute with China regarding Senkaku/Diaoyu. The Republic of Korea (South Korea) has rejected Japan’s offer to refer their dispute over Dokdo/Takeshima to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the grounds that there is no dispute. These developments may give the impression that Asians are against submitting their disputes to the international legal process. Such an impression would be incorrect.

Situation in South-east Asia

THE countries in South-east Asia have a positive track record of referring their disputes to the international legal process. Let me briefly discuss some of the most important cases.

  • The Preah Vihear case

The first case submitted by two South-east Asian countries to the ICJ was the dispute over the temple, Preah Vihear, between Cambodia and Thailand. Cambodia brought the case to the court in 1959 and, in 1962, ICJ awarded sovereignty over the temple to Cambodia.

However, the court was not asked and therefore did not demarcate the boundary between the two countries, around the temple or rule on the ownership of the land around the temple. This omission would lead to misunderstanding and border skirmishes between the two countries.

In 2011, Cambodia surprised everyone by applying to the ICJ and requesting the court to interpret its 1962 judgment. In particular, Cambodia requested the court to declare that it had sovereignty over the vicinity of the temple. The court agreed to accept the case and found that Cambodia had sovereignty over the whole promontory on which the temple is located. The judgment has been accepted by the two countries and peace has returned to the Cambodian/Thai border.

  • The Sipadan and Ligitan case

Indonesia and Malaysia had a sovereignty dispute over two islands, Sipadan and Ligitan.

The two governments agreed to refer the dispute to the ICJ in 1998. In its 2002 judgment, the court awarded sovereignty over the two islands to Malaysia. Although Indonesia was very disappointed with the judgment, it has accepted it.

  • The Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh case

In 1847, the British government in Singapore took possession of the island known as Pedra Branca, in Portuguese, and Pulau Batu Puteh, in Malay. The British built a lighthouse on the island in 1850 and it was inaugurated in 1851.

From that time until 1979, no one had disputed Singapore’s (as a successor to British) sovereignty over the island. However, in 1979, Malaysia published a new map which, among other things, claimed the island as Malaysian territory.

Although Singapore was in possession of the island, it was willing to acknowledge that there was a dispute and suggested referring it to the ICJ.

In 2003, the two governments submitted the case to the court.  In its 2008 judgment, the ICJ awarded sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh to Singapore, sovereignty over Middle Rocks to Malaysia and the low-tide elevation, South Ledge, to the state in whose territorial sea it is located.

  • The Myanmar-Bangladesh case

Another Asean country, Myanmar, had a dispute with its neighbour, Bangladesh, on their maritime boundaries.

When years of negotiations proved unsuccessful, the two governments agreed in 2009 to refer their dispute to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). The parties requested the tribunal to draw their maritime boundaries, with respect to the territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. In 2012, ITLOS delivered its judgment which was accepted by both parties.

Situation in South Asia

THE positive attitude of the Asean countries is shared by the countries of South Asia. Let me cite a few examples.

Bangladesh has settled its maritime- boundary dispute with Myanmar through ITLOS. In 2009, Bangladesh initiated arbitral proceedings against India, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, concerning their disputed maritime boundary. India agreed to participate in the arbitration. Last year, the Arbitral Tribunal issued its award which has been accepted by both parties.

Relations between India and Pakistan have been difficult since the painful partition of British India in 1947 into the two countries.

One of the difficult bilateral issues is how the waters of the Indus River would be shared between them.

Due to the facilitation of the World Bank, the first prime minister of India, Mr Pandit Nehru, and General Ayub Khan, the then President of Pakistan, signed a treaty on the Indus River. In the event of a dispute which cannot be settled by negotiation, they agreed to refer the dispute to international arbitration.

In 2010, Pakistan invoked the treaty and referred a dispute with India, over the building of dams by India, to arbitration. In 2013, the Arbitral Tribunal ruled that India has the right to divert the waters of Kishenganga River, subject to a minimum flow which India must release into the river. Alternative ways to settle disputes THE above survey shows that Asians in South-east Asia and South Asia have referred some of their disputes to arbitration or adjudication. Five Asian countries, namely, Cambodia, India, Japan, the Philippines and Timor Leste, have accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of ICJ. Almost all Asian countries are parties to UNCLOS.

Some Asians, especially in North-east Asia, are however reluctant to submit their sovereignty disputes over territory to either arbitration or adjudication. They do not like the fact that the legal process is adversarial and the outcome is a zero-sum game.

I would therefore like to suggest the following alternative methods of dispute settlement: fact-finding, mediation, conciliation and joint development.

  • Fact-finding

In some cases, a dispute between two states is primarily about the facts and not about the law. The Land Reclamation case between Malaysia and Singapore is such an example.

In that case, Malaysia alleged that Singapore’s land reclamation activities in the Strait of Johor had intruded into Malaysian territory, caused damage to the marine environment and adversely affected the livelihood of Malaysian fishermen.

After launching arbitral proceedings against Singapore, Malaysia applied to ITLOS for provisional measures against Singapore. In its 2003 judgment, ITLOS rejected Malaysia’s request for provisional measures. Instead, the tribunal ordered the two governments to establish an independent group of four experts to verify the facts.

After a year-long study, the four experts submitted an unanimous report largely exonerating Singapore. The report was accepted by both governments. The two sides were able to negotiate an amicable settlement based on those findings of fact.

  • Mediation

Mediation is consensual in nature and it results in a win-win outcome.

An example of a successful mediation is the settlement of the protracted dispute between the government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement.

Following the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, the two sides approached the former president of Finland, Mr Martti Ahtisaari, to mediate in their dispute. In a Nobel Prize-winning performance, Mr Ahtisaari succeeded in brokering a peace agreement in 2005.

  • Conciliation

Conciliation is also consensual and yields a win-win outcome.

Three of my good friends, Mr Hans Andersen of Iceland, Mr Jens Evensen of Norway and Mr Elliot Richardson of the United States, were members of a conciliation commission established by Iceland and Norway to settle a dispute over their continental shelves.

Mr Richardson was appointed by Iceland and Norway as the impartial chairman. The commission was able to make a proposal acceptable to both parties.

  • Joint development

Many years ago, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping proposed that countries should put aside competing legal claims and concentrate instead on jointly developing the resources in the disputed territory and sharing them.

The fact that joint development can work is demonstrated by an agreement between Malaysia and Thailand to jointly develop the gas resources in the disputed area of their continental shelves in the Gulf of Thailand and sharing the benefits. The joint development between the two countries started in 1979 and has been a great success.

The Asian way

IN CONCLUSION, I wish to make three points.

First, Asians want their region to be peaceful, stable and prosperous. They want the rule of law to be strong and for all disputes between states to be settled peacefully, in accordance with the law and not on the basis that might is right.

Second, with the exception of China, Asians do not have a negative attitude towards settling their disputes by arbitration or adjudication. China should therefore reconsider its position in order to conform to the best Asian and international practice.

Third, in addition to arbitration and adjudication, we should also consider several consensual, win-win, methods of dispute settlement, such as fact-finding, mediation, conciliation and joint development.

The writer is chairman of the governing board of the Centre for International Law, National University of Singapore.

Top diplomats set to meet to discuss China, Japan, South Korea summit

March 12, 2015

SEOUL Thu Mar 12, 2015 4:25am EDT

South Korea’s Deputy Minister for Political Affairs Lee Kyung-Soo (C) leads Japan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Shinsuke Sugiyama (L) and China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Liu Zhenmin during the tenth Republic of Korea-Japan-China Trilateral Senior Foreign Officials’ Consultation at a hotel in central Seoul March 11, 2015.  Credit: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

(Reuters) – The foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea are preparing to meet this month for their first talks in nearly three years, in a bid to resolve tension over Japan’s wartime past and discuss a three-way summit.

Japanese media reported that the foreign ministers would probably meet in Seoul on March 21 and 22, while China’s foreign ministry said it would be late March. South Korea said a ministers’ meeting is planned for this month, without confirming the dates.

“If the trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting is held soon, it will undoubtedly give us the opportunity to re-establish the groundwork for trust-building and common prosperity,” South Korea’s deputy foreign minister Lee Kyung-soo said.

Lee hosted a meeting of his counterparts in Seoul on Wednesday, saying their goal was to make “preparations for a successful foreign ministers’ meeting, upon which we may pave ways for the next step of trilateral cooperation”.

The last three-way summit was held in Beijing in May 2012.

An “initial consensus” on the foreign ministers’ meeting had not been reached easily, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

“China pays great attention to this foreign ministers’ meeting, and hopes it can be arranged in a spirit of proactively promoting cooperation, yet not avoiding problems,” Hong told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

Japan’s ties with China remain frosty despite Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time last November on the sidelines of an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

Abe has yet to have a formal two-way summit with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, although they sat down with U.S. President Barack Obama a year ago on the sidelines of a nuclear summit to discuss responses to North Korea’s military threats.

South Korea has accused Japan of trying to “undermine” an apology issued in 1993 to Asian women forced to work as wartime sex slaves in Japanese brothels, known as “comfort women”, by conducting a review of it last year.

Both South Korea and China have been angered by visits by Japanese government ministers, including Abe, to the Yasukuni Shrine, which they see as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism.

Ties have also been strained by territorial rows.

China and Japan claim ownership of a tiny group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, called the Senkaku by Japan and the Diaoyu by China.

South Korea and Japan also have a separate dispute over islands that lie between their mainlands, called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese.

(Reporting by Jack Kim; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Jeremy Laurence and Clarence Fernandez)