LDP wants Japan-China gas field issue taken to international courts


The ruling Liberal Democratic Party proposed Friday that the issue of China potentially deciding to unilaterally develop natural gas fields in contested waters be taken to international tribunals.

An LDP task force asked the government to take the issue to the International Court of Justice or the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. The party is headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

A group of politicians submitted the proposal to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga when they met at the prime minister’s office, and the government’s top spokesman told a press conference later in the day that Tokyo will consider the idea “from a strategic perspective.”

The LDP task force said Japan should not accept attempts by Chinese state-run companies to develop seven new gas fields in the East China Sea, where the two countries have seen talks stall over joint development of other fields.

Beijing has repeatedly attempted to set up drilling facilities on its side of what Japan claims is the border of its exclusive economic zone, even though the undersea gas fields in the area could extend to Japan’s side.

The call by the task force comes amid escalating bilateral tensions in the East China Sea over the uninhabited Senkaku Islands that Japan has controlled for decades but are claimed by China as Diaoyu, and by Taiwan as Tiaoyutai. Beijing recently established an air defense identification zone over the area that overlaps with Japan’s.

The LDP lawmakers also said the government should enhance cooperation with the Philippines and Vietnam, which are engaged in territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.

  • zer0_0zor0

    I was under the understanding that China was supportive of UNCLOSIII, and is in fact a signatory, whereas the US is not, if I’m not mistaken.

    In reading up on some of these issues, it seems that the ICJ ruled in the Tunisia-Lybia case in 1982 that natural prolongation of a coastal state was the basis of its legal title to continental shelf rights.

    Does UNCLOS discusses mineral resources below the continental shelf?

    It should be notes that the Diaoyu/Senkaku islets are an outcropping from the continental shelf of China, which is separated from the Ryuku islands by a deep trough that used to be considered the international border up through the late 19th century.

    In December 2012, in fact, China submitted such a claim regarding its continental shelf to the UN, if I’m not mistaken.

    Accordingly, it is hard to see how Japan could attempt to contest anything at the UN without admitting there is a dispute over the sovereignty of the islets in the first place, otherwise there is no basis for Japan’s claim regarding the continental shelf.