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    A destroyer of the South China Sea Fleet of the Chinese Navy fires a missile during a training exercise.

    Tokyo Provokes Beijing, Demands Adherence to the South China Sea Ruling

    © AP Photo / Zha Chunming
    Asia & Pacific
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    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wasted no time following The Hague’s ruling that China has no legal basis to territory that has long been in its control, a ruling that may also impact Tokyo and Beijing’s longstanding dispute over the Senkaku Islands.

    Tokyo increased pressure on Beijing during the Asia-Europe summit on Saturday calling on China to respect an international tribunal’s ruling that dismissed its claims to much of the South China Sea including the disputed Paracel and Spratly islands.

    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the assembled leaders that the rule of law was "a universal principle that he international community must firmly maintain," according to Japan’s Jiji Press.

    "I strongly hope the parties to the dispute comply with the award and move towards a peaceful solution of the dispute in the South China Sea," he said.

    Japan is not one of the six nations that have a claim to the South China Sea territory, but Tokyo does hold a separate dispute with China regarding the Senkaku Islands, known by the Chinese as the Diaoyu Islands.

    Tokyo has gone to great lengths under the Abe administration to squelch China’s growing regional influence under Prime Minister Abe who has joined forces with the Obama administration on an unprecedented joint military arrangement that will see the two countries developing weapons for one another. Tokyo has also engaged in increasingly feverish rounds of provocations along China’s eastern flank joined by the United States and Indian naval forces.

    The case against China regarding the territorial dispute in the South China Sea was put forward by the Philippines, with the support of the United States, before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague which ruled that Beijing has no legal basis for its claims which are embodied in a “nine-dash line” from maps dating back to the 1940s and stretches close to other country’s coastal waters.

    Japan viewed the decision as a boon for its own territorial dispute with Beijing in the East China Sea, but many legal scholars have already begun picking apart the logic of The Hague ruling pointing to the fact that China has long maintained physical control of the territory.

    China boycotted the PCA hearings arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction and reacted furiously vowing to ignore the ruling and arguing that it grossly misinterprets the Law of the Sea Treaty.

    China has sought to counter Western meddling in their claim to the South China Sea by building a network of artificial islands capable of supporting military operations, and this week reiterated its right to declare an Air Defense Identification Zone in the area, which would demand civilian flights submit to the authority of its military.

    With the ruling from the PCA going against China, the South China Sea region is now a powder keg just waiting to explode as the United States continues to attempt flyovers in the region and Beijing may soon decide that the provocations are too great to ignore.

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    Tags:
    South China Sea dispute, disputed islands, disputed waters, The Hague's Arbitration Court, Shinzo Abe, Xi Jinping, Barack Obama, Paracel Islands, Spratly archipelago, Manila, South China Sea, Tokyo, Senkaku Islands, Washington, Beijing
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