Japanese position on the South China Sea

Japan actively supports ASEAN’s efforts for the establishment of a code of conduct in the South China Sea. We also, in collaborating with relevant countries, hope to play a greater role in upholding the fundamental principles of freedom of navigation and to the adherence of maritime laws, that are centered on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Yet since rules are the minimum level of norm, just keeping them may not prevent an incident in which one party misunderstands the other’s intention. A well-known Chinese proverb says, “do not step into a field of melons, and do not straighten your crown under a plum tree. What this means is that a person with god manners does not do things that invite unnecessary suspicion.” Therefore, in addition to the establishment of rules and norms, Japan will promote the practice of “Good Seamanship,” which will help prevent unintended collisions or conflicts caused by misunderstandings

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Japan’s Defence Minister, Shangri-La Dialogue, June 1, 2013

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