International Humanity

A Blog Started to Record my thoughts on International News events

Japan & China Argue about Oceanic Property Rights

Posted by alexfrancis on June 25, 2007


Japan is claiming a few coral reefs 1,060 miles south of Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean. Japan desires control over the reefs in order to perform scientific studies on the reefs. For example, Japanese scientists are planning to graft millions of synthetic coral fragments to the reefs. However, Japan also desires the area for the fishing, mineral, oil, and gas resources in the area.

China draws upon the “Law of the Sea” to contest the Japanese claim to the reefs. The Law of the Sea states that an island is “a naturally formed area of land surrounded by water.” Following this interpretation, the coral reefs, even after being modified to rise above sea level by Japanese scientists, do not constitute for islands that can be laid claim to. Thus China argues that Japan can not claim the reefs as an economic zone nor limit Chinese exploration in the area. However, some political analysts view China’s interest to be not one of exploration but one of war. It may be the case that China simply wants greater maritime freedom in the case of war, especially with a conceivable war with Taiwan.

States are generally defined in terms of the territory they claim hold to – that is, the dry land, lakes, rivers, mountains, ports, etc. However, the claim to the ocean itself or coral reefs such as this are difficult to divide up among nations. As a result, territorial conflicts such as this are readily conceivable issues of international politics.

One Response to “Japan & China Argue about Oceanic Property Rights”

  1. Adair said

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    Colbert from Mobile city

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