Tensions are rising, and Japan must be modern.
September 11 will mark the tenth anniversary of the Japanese authorities buy of the Senkaku Islands (particularly, Uotsuri Island, Minamikojima Island and Kitakojima Island) from their earlier house owners.
Even earlier than the 2012 nationalization, Chinese language authorities vessels had been working within the surrounding waters, however current years have seen a normalization of China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels making incursions into the territorial waters across the Senkaku, navigating by way of the contiguous zone and approaching and following Japanese fishing boats.
In 2021, CCG vessels sailed by way of the contiguous zone a complete of 332 days. This was second solely to the file 333 days in 2020. This 12 months, as of August 19, CCG vessels had entered the contiguous zone on 220 days, on tempo for a brand new file.
In the meantime, CCG vessels approached and adopted Japanese fishing boats in territorial waters across the Senkaku Islands 18 occasions in 2021, greater than double the eight of 2020.
Japan responds to the entry of CCG vessels into the territorial waters across the Senkaku Islands by demanding that CCG vessels – which declare that they’re engaged in regulation enforcement exercise in accordance with Chinese language home legal guidelines and rules – to withdraw on the idea of the United Nations Conference on the Regulation of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Sooner or later, it’s fairly attainable that CCG crew could land on one of many islands. Furthermore, with the variety of CCG vessels approaching and following Japanese fishing boats rising, it is very important observe that CCG crew may search to implement Chinese language legal guidelines and rules towards Japanese fishing boats (for example, with on-site inspections or seizures of Japanese fishing boats). Whereas the operation of Japanese fishing boats within the waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands is a official train of rights, it must be famous that China might search to construct a observe file of imposing Chinese language legal guidelines and rules. Japan must be ready to take care of this appropriately and successfully.
Japan and China disagree on the territorial sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands (identified in China because the Diaoyu Islands), with variations that aren’t straightforward to reconcile. The Japanese authorities doesn’t acknowledge the existence of any worldwide dispute over the territorial sovereignty of the islands. It will be important that Japan manages the completely different opinions of Japan and China by regularly attenuating the confrontations within the surrounding waters by way of diplomatic means, whereas concurrently guaranteeing that confrontations don’t escalate into clashes.
In recent times, CCG vessels have turn out to be bigger and extra closely armed. Ships belonging to the Folks’s Liberation Military Navy’s are additionally being transformed into CCG vessels. Based on materials revealed by the Japan Coast Guard (JCG), the variety of massive CCG vessels above the 1,000-ton class (full load displacement) was 131 as of the tip of December 2020, than 3 times the variety of a decade in the past. That is about twice the variety of massive JCG patrol vessels above the 1,000-ton class (gross tonnage).
The JCG is bolstering its personal coast guard system by constructing massive new patrol vessels. Nevertheless, Japan to easily unable to match China in constructing extra massive patrol vessels. Establishing these vessels and coaching their crews takes money and time. As soon as the vessels have been constructed, there’s additionally the difficulty of securing dependable restore and crew members.
How lengthy will the present state of affairs surrounding the Senkaku Islands proceed? That’s unclear. But when we settle for that tensions could effectively persist for an additional decade or two, then Japan wants to hunt modern approaches to strengthening its coast guard system.
TSURUTA Jun is an affiliate professor on the School of Regulation, Meiji Gakuin College.