Hague ruling must be basis to resolve sea dispute
DAVAO CITY - A multilateral effort must be organized on the basis of The Hague award on the Philippines as far as the maritime dispute in the South China Sea issue is concerned, a Japanese official said on Friday.
Japan Press Secretary Yasuhisa Kawamura made the statement following the remarks of Foreign Affairs
Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. the Philippines, this year's chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations, does not need to bring up during the regional meetings and leaders' summit in the country the July 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidating China's "historic right" through nine-dash line in almost the entire South China Sea.
"It (award) came out last July which set out the course and the decisions and the legal judgment which the countries should follow and on the basis of that, such multilateral effort must be organized," Kawamura told Manila Shimbun in an interview here.
Kawamura was part of the delegation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, concluded a two-day official visit in the country, including the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte.
He said during the bilateral meeting of Abe and Duterte in Malacanang on Thursday, the Japanese leader raised the three conditions that "must be met in the future negotiations." These include the peaceful resolution of disputes, no militarization in the region, and the rule of law must prevail.
"So in yesterday's meeting between the two leaders, I think this was raised by Mr. Abe and he confirmed that is quite important point. And on the basis of such discussion, I think I would like to underline the importance of the tribunal court, the final judgment on the dispute in the area," Kawamura said.
Yasay has said the Philippines does not need to delve on the ruling during the ASEAN meetings here because "there is no useful benefit."
He has said the award is a matter that the Philippines would be raising to China in some future time on its bilateral talks.
Manila would instead push for the framework of the Code of Conduct of parties over the South China Sea.
Abe has said Japan would fully support the Philippine ASEAN chairmanship.
Asked on the possible effect of Duterte's foreign policy insofar as the United States is concerned and his pivot to China and Russia, Kawamura said, "I think I should refrain from making comments on the relationship or diplomacy (of Duterte) with the third country."
But just like what Abe told Duterte, Japan supports Philippines' role this year in the ASEAN as its chair, he said.
Kawamura said ASEAN plays an important role in the regional stability and it has established a close working relationship with Japan and other countries as well.
"So I hope that Philippines will continue to play an important role in the ASEAN policy-making and Japan is more than happy to provide necessary assistance and support of the Philippine presidency of the ASEAN," he said.
Like Japan, the United States has been critical of China's activities in the South China Sea despite the Hague ruling.
China did not participate in the arbitration proceedings and rejected the award.
Kawamura underscored the "important role in the international relations" that the US under the new administration of President-elect Donald Trump will play.
"I think from the Japanese standpoint, the Japan-US security alliance will continue to be the cornerstone of the Japanese foreign policy and it is a key for stability and prosperity of the region," he said.
"Under the new administration of US, we look forward to work closely so that the Asia Pacific region remains secure and prosper(ous)." Celerina Monte/DMS