PH, Japan lawmakers call for rule of law in sea disputes

By Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 03 2014 03:59 PM | Updated as of Sep 03 2014 11:59 PM

MANILA - Six Japanese parliamentarians and 13 Philippine congressmen signed on Wednesday a joint document for cooperation on the promotion of the rule of law amid ongoing tensions with China over disputed waters.

The Japanese delegation headed by Hiroshi Nakada, a member of the Japanese parliament belonging to the Party for Future Generations, said the document aims to bring together lawmakers from both countries in order to promote the resolution of conflicts in a peaceful manner.

The document declares that to achieve peace and safety in the seas, states should clarify their claims based on international law.

In the joint document, the Philippine side - led by Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon - and the Japanese side agreed that states should not use force or coercion in pursuing their claims and to change the status quo in the disputed waters.

The document states that claimants shall seek to settle disputes by peaceful means and avoid any unilateral attempts to change the status quo through force or coercion.

It also states that both sides will work on their respective governments to address maritime issues based on the recognition that any claim should be based on international law, and that there would be no use of force or coercion in pursuing their claims.

The Philippine and Japanese sides agreed to encourage fellow lawmakers to join efforts to establish the "Parliamentarians League for Maritime Security in Asia."

The two sides also agreed to work with members of other parliaments in other countries in maintaining international law and order in the sea.

Nakada said this is just the group's first step and their ultimate goal is for their respective governments and other countries to agree on the joint declaration so that China will eventually be encouraged to promote the rule of law at sea.

At present, China has chosen not to participate in international arbitration to resolve conflicting claims in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

Aside from campaigning for a peaceful resolution, Biazon also wants to include in the discussions security concerns against encroachment and poaching.

Both the Philippines and Japan have ongoing territorial dispute with China.

Japan holds control of several islands in the East China Sea which are also being claimed by China. The Philippines, on the other hand, accuses China of encroaching on its exclusive economic zone in the disputed waters.