NEW YORK – Japan should take its disagreements with China over the Senkaku Islands to the International Court of Justice, Jerome Cohen, a New York University law professor and expert in Chinese law, said in an interview.
“I want Japan to use international law,” Cohen said, stressing that Japan should follow in the steps of the Philippines, which in 2013 sought international arbitration over China’s claims to almost all of the South China Sea.
Cohen, who was long involved in U.S.-China diplomacy, argued the Philippines’ move surprised China and claimed that it helped make Beijing less aggressive on its territorial claims.
“They are very afraid of arbitration. It’s a big headache for China,” Cohen said Thursday.
He added that now would be a good time for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to move to resolve the Senkaku sovereignty issue following his re-election after the Liberal Democratic Party’s landslide victory in the Dec. 14 snap election.
In Japan’s bureaucracy, some officials say they should take the Senkaku issue to the ICJ, Cohen noted, adding, “I said to them that I’m waiting for Mr. Abe to say that.”
Tokyo’s official position is that the Senkaku Islands, just off Taiwan, are an inherent part of Japanese territory and that no territorial dispute exists over them. China and Taiwan claim the isles as Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively.