AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

No, I don’t understand it either

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, October 9, 2012

THE reason more people don’t write geopolitical satire is that they’re incapable of creating fiction that would surpass anything national governments already produce.

In July, we had a post about a brouhaha between China and South Korea over national territory of the imagination. It isn’t possible to claim it as territory, but what’s the bagatelle of international law to these two?

China and South Korea also have a dispute about some isolated bit of maritime territory, this one in the East China Sea. It’s so isolated, in fact, it’s 4.6 meters below sea level. That’s the sunken reef known as Ieodo, Parangdo, Suyan Rock, Socotra Rock, or That Thing Down There, depending on your perspective.

Located 150 kilometers southeast of Jeju, the Underwater Treasure is closer to Japanese territory than to Chinese territory. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea states that no country can claim submerged reefs, but that hasn’t stopped these two. In fact, the Koreans did what they do best in situations of this sort — they built a pointless facility on the rock.

That’s the facility in the photo above. From the Korea Times:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) plans to call in senior diplomats of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul today to protest Beijing’s claims of jurisdiction over Korea’s southern reef territory Ieodo, a ministry spokesman said Sunday

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) stipulates that any coastal state has the rights to claim an EEZ that stretches up to 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) from its shore, except where there is an overlap with a neighboring country’s claims.

In short, South Korea bases its claim to this mini-Atlantis on an international agreement that says they can’t make the claim.

No, I don’t understand it either.

South Korean sources say the existence of Ieodo was “confirmed in 1984”, and their Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries established a “scientific base” there to study the seabed topography and tides in the area. But:

The issue has drawn public attention in South Korea recently following media reports that Liu Xigui, the chief of China’s State Oceanic Administration, claimed in an interview with Beijing’s Xinhua news agency that Ieodo is in waters under Chinese control and is part of areas patrolled by Chinese vessels and aircraft.

The same article quotes President Lee Myung-bak as saying it “is not a territorial matter”, yet also calls it an “islet” a few paragraphs later. On 23 September, however, the Chinese government announced that it would conduct a simulation of a remote maritime monitoring system using drones. Some South Korean newspapers reported some Chinese newspapers as saying Ieodo would be among the territory subject to periodic monitoring:

China recently denied the report and said they wouldn’t claim Ieodo. In response to Seoul’s query, China has recently clarified that those reports do not represent its official position and reflect only “a personal opinion” of the official quoted, the sources said.

The Chinese official just “mentioned the extent of the surveillance organization’s work from a technical aspect,” the Beijing government said in its reply to Seoul, according to the sources.

But then the Chinese have been objecting to Korean behavior there since 2006, and conducted aerial surveillance of the site five times in 2005.

China objects to Korea’s “unilateral” activities in the region. Beijing and Seoul held several rounds of negotiations on the demarcation of the EEZ between the two countries, but the Chinese government objected to Korea’s establishment of a maritime observatory complex on the island, Quin said. He described the Korean government’s unilateral action as “illegal” but added the two countries never had a territorial dispute over the island.

A South Korean journalist specializing in military matters (name not provided in Chinese characters) told KBS TV in South Korea:

“Ieodo is next after the Senkakus. China is moving to create a territorial dispute…China will demand that South Korea remove its maritime science base.”

That’s the backdrop for the South Korean government seeking negotiations with Japan to relax its rules for the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). Ieodo is within the Japanese ADIZ, which means that South Korean aircraft and ships must provide information on their planned course and destination, usually to an air traffic controller, before entry. South Korean military sources say that the pseudo-islet was not included in the South Korean ADIZ by the United States Pacific Command in the early 1950s, but was inside the ADIZ established by Japan in 1963.

KBS TV reported that Japan was not warm to the idea.

So: South Korea ignored the terms of the peace treaty ending the Second World War and seized Takeshima by force from Japan when they knew Japan would be unable to stop them. They have since employed the islets as a symbol of hyper-chauvinism, one manifestation of which was an athlete running amok at the London Olympics with a non-Olympian banner only Koreans can read. If Japan suggests taking the dispute to the International Court of Justice, Korean politicians and the mass media indulge in a national revile-a-thon, and some break out their paper hats and striped paper noisemakers to charge that the Japanese far right is getting ready to march back onto the Korean Peninsula again. All of this is reported in the Japanese-language editions of South Korean newspapers, which many Japanese read.

And the Korean government actually thought the Japanese government might do them a favor when they get on board the Yellow Submarine to visit their land beneath the waves, because they think that, tabun maybe perhaps desho, the Chinese aren’t telling the truth?

No, Japan was not warm to the idea. I wonder why?

****
Aa, Wakaranai = Ah, I don’t understand it.

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4 Responses to “No, I don’t understand it either”

  1. Avery said

    I heard a report that Korea once organized an international conference on the ownership of the water underneath this platform. The conference was held on the platform itself and only those who would agree to fly to the platform on a Korean airline were invited. I’m not sure if that report was made up by 2ch but it sounds entirely believable to me, given China’s very real “international conferences” on Japanese World War II war crimes.

  2. Tony said

    Hashimoto’s recent comments on both Takeshima and the Senkaku’s is interesting. I wonder if they will effect the public’s view of his party?
    ————–
    Thanks for reminding me I have to put all those comments of his I saved into a readable post. I did say something about that at the end of the post about the new Noda Cabinet.

    -A.

  3. It’s like it’s the 16th Century Age of Exploration all over again, over there…

  4. Harry said

    Is it true that Ieodo is included in the Japanese ADIZ? That’s news to me.

    We redrew the ADIZ line over Yonaguni for national security reasons, but I don’t think Ieodo really matters to us. Why not back away and exclude the islet from our ADIZ?
    ———–
    I don’t know. This was a report out of South Korea.

    – A.

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