Japan’s important sideshow to arbitration decision in the South China Sea


  • Incident entre Taïwan et le Japon, ses conséquences
    Japan’s important sideshow to arbitration decision in the South China Sea | East Asia Forum

    n 24 April Japan’s Coast Guard arrested a Taiwanese fishing vessel and its crew for fishing in waters that Japan claims are part of its 200-nautical mile ‘exclusive economic zone’ (EEZ) under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Japan’s EEZ claim is based on its control over two tiny rocks surrounded by a coral reef more than 1000 miles south of Tokyo. Although Japanese military patrols began chasing Taiwanese fishing boats away from the area two years ago, this was reportedly the first actual detention since 2012.

    The Taiwanese government lodged a strong protest against the recent Japanese action. To obtain the release of the ship and crew the Taiwanese ship-owner posted a security bond, in effect a fine, with the Japanese government. The incident infuriated public opinion in Taiwan.

    The detention of the ship occurred some 150 nautical miles from the Okinotori islands in an area where as many as 200 Taiwanese fishing boats operated safely in the past. The influential Taiwan fishing community demanded the return of the security deposit, reimbursement for business losses incurred and an apology to the ship’s captain, who was allegedly subjected to a strip search.

    Increasingly influential Taiwanese nationalists called for a strong reaction to Japan’s interference with Taiwanese perceived fishing rights in an area Taiwan deems to be part of the ‘high seas’ rather than Japan’s EEZ. President Ma Ying-jeou, himself an expert on the law of the sea, promptly dispatched several armed patrol boats to protect Taiwanese fishermen in the area, some 860 nautical miles away. Taiwan’s Coast Guard announced that it would follow a policy of ‘no evasion, no confrontation and no provocation’ and hoped for a peaceful, rational solution. But it added that it would ‘take responsive measures’ against any unfriendly Japanese actions.