Japan backs Philippines' legal move vs. China
Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - April 1, 2014 - 5:15pm

MANILA, Philippines — Japan declared its support for the Philippines' pursuit for arbitration to resolve the dispute with China over outcrops in the South China Sea.

In a statement Tuesday, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs backed the Philippines' move despite China's rejection of the case before the UN International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.

"The government of Japan supports the Philippines' use of procedures under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea aiming at peaceful settlement of disputes on the basis of international law," Japanese foreign ministry deputy director Koichi Mizushima said.

Mizushima hailed the Philippines' submission of its memorial, or pleading, to the tribunal. It contained 10 volumes of documents justifying its claims over the territories and seeking relief from the dispute with China.

"Such an action contributes to the maintenance and enhancement of the international order in the region based on the rule of law," he said.

Japan is also China's rival claimant over features of the East China Sea. In December 2013, China declared an air defense identification zone over a reef Japan claims part of its territory.

Japan, an ally of the United States, believes that the Philippines' row with the Asian giant is a matter of peace and stability in the region amid China's growing assertiveness and show of military muscle within its neighbor's acknowledged continental shelf.

"The issue with regard to the South China Sea ... is a common concern of the international community as a whole since the issue influences the international maritime order," Tokyo said.

Japan added said that the rule of law must prevail over the strategic waters "for the maintenance and enhancement of the international order in the region."

The maritime area is a vital passageway of several nations including the United States, which had advocated for freedom of navigation and overflight.

CHINA EAST CHINA SEA IN DECEMBER INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL JAPAN KOICHI MIZUSHIMA LAW OF THE SEA MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS SOUTH CHINA SEA UNITED STATES
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