MANILA - A small group of Japanese and Philippine lawmakers agreed Wednesday to promote peaceful resolution of maritime disputes in Asia on the basis of international law and to seek establishment of a "Parliamentarians' League for Maritime Security in Asia."
"We believe legislators have a role to play in discussing these issues among themselves and suggesting recommendations to their respective governments so that these conflicts can be resolved under international law," Hiroshi Nakada of the newly established, right-leaning The Party for Future Generations told a press conference on the last day of a three-day visit
Nakada was joined by five other legislators from the same opposition political party on a trip that included meetings with legislators from the Philippine House of Representatives and Senate, as well as coast guard officials.
The six, together with 13 Philippine congressmen, signed a "Joint Document for Cooperation on Promotion of the Rule of Law at Sea," which says both sides "will encourage members of their respective parliaments to join efforts to establish a parliamentary association, namely, Parliamentarians' League for Maritime Security in Asia, aiming at protecting and promoting maritime order based on international law."
It also says they "recognize that at sea, states should make and clarify their claims based on international law; states should not use force or coercion in pursuing their claims; and states shall seek to settle disputes by peaceful means and avoid any unilateral attempts to change the status quo through force or coercion, and will strengthen cooperation based on the common recognition."
Among the Philippine signatories was lawmaker Rodolfo Biazon, who chairs a congressional committee on defense and security.
Nakada said that after the Philippines, the political party he represents will reach out to lawmakers in Vietnam, another Southeast Asian country involved in heated maritime disputes with China in the South China Sea.
Japan, for its part, has row with China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, and both it and the Philippines accuse the Chinese of bullying tactics in asserting their claims.
Nakada's political party was launched in August with former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara as its chief advisor. It has 19 members in the 480-member House of Representatives, which is dominated by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party.
The party advocates strengthening Japan's defense capabilities, drafting a new constitution, establishing "independent diplomacy," fostering patriotism, forming a unicameral legislature, public election of the prime minister, and protecting the "honor and dignity of the Japanese nation and its people" by countering allegations made with regard to the comfort women issue.