Maritime Issues

Marine Scientific Research by Third Countries over the Extended Continental Shelf

The Benham Rise constitutes the greater part of the extended continental shelf of the Philippines. It has been pointed out since early on that there may be large deposits of oil and natural gas under the Benham Rise, and the waters over the Benham Rise also have abundant marine living resources. The Philippine government submitted information on the limits of the continental shelf to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in order to exercise its sovereign rights to the Benham Rise as well as the 200-nautical-mile conventional continental shelf. Following the recommendation of the CLCS, the Philippine government deposited charts and relevant information describing the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles with the Secretary-General of the United Nations in accordance with Article 76, paragraph 9. If it is assumed that the Chinese ship was carrying out marine scientific research on the Benham Rise, it follows that the research ship was on the high seas even if it was engaged in a survey of the extended continental shelf. Aren’t there fears that any problems arise from this situation under international law? The present paper examines this issue while analyzing discussions about this question.

Exercising Enforcement Jurisdiction around the Senkaku Islands

As the Senkaku Islands are Japanese territory, Japan has jurisdiction over the territorial sea and EEZ pertaining to them. China also claims the islands, though, which superficially presents competing jurisdictional claims. In this paper, the legal specialist Miyoshi Masahiro examines aspects of the law governing Japan’s response to foreign governmental ships in its territorial sea and EEZ. He also explores the causes of the overlapping claims problem from an international law perspective.

The Regime of Islands in International Conventions (Part 1)

What we call “the law of the sea” is not a single set of rules, but a complex international legal landscape featuring a range of multilateral and bilateral agreements. In the first part of his multipart paper, the legal specialist Terasaki Naomichi Hiro examines the regime of islands as it developed through the discussion at the 1930 Hague Codification Conference, two of the UN Conferences on the Law of the Sea, and other gatherings, and as it was presented in documents including the four 1958 Geneva Conventions on the Law of the Sea.

The Strategic Value of Territorial Islands from the Perspective of National Security

Much of the strategic value that islands have is related to their geographic potential. Defense specialist Akimoto Kazumine, a senior research fellow at the OPRF, notes that Japan’s islands are deeply tied to the regional security environment as a whole. Chinese naval forces view Japanese island territories as an impediment to their access to the western Pacific, which makes them a likely focus of any military confrontation involving China in the region. Japan needs to ensure an EEZ regime free of restrictions on use of the seas while maintaining the security of its territorial islands.

The Functions and Work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf

How It Responds to Disputed Island Claims Among Coastal States

Iuchi Yumiko and Usui Asano, two OPRF research fellows, explain the role of the CLCS, a body tasked with examining and recommending approval of submissions from coastal states regarding their continental shelf limits. Offshore islands can serve as the baseline for extensions of these limits, making them a vital part of states’ submissions to the CLCS. When conflicting submissions are made, as by the coastal states surrounding the South China Sea, how does the commission function? And how has Japan’s 2008 submission extending its continental shelf in seven regions been regarded?

Islands' Sea Areas: Effects of a Rising Sea Level

In an era of global warming, islands and shorelines face considerable change from the rising sea level. This will clearly impact low-lying islands around the world in particular, but less attention has been given to the effect on sea areas associated with those islands and their vanishing or shifting shorelines. The legal scholar Hayashi Moritaka examines the problem of maritime zones defined in relation to baselines in the context of drastic change to the shorelines, which form the bases for them. New rules are needed in the UNCLOS framework to address this.

The Problems in the South China Sea

Based on Discussions at the “Security Environment of the Seas in East Asia” International Conference

In February 2012 the second in a series of international conferences was held in Singapore. There participants discussed territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Japan is not a party to these disputes, but they have bearing on the nation for their impact on the East Asian security environment and on China’s relations with other states. Defense specialist Ueno Hideshi introduces the range of views presented at this conference on Chinese territorial claims, US responses, and other factors that will need close attention as the region moves forward.