Vietnam disturbed over Japan’s island disputes

Japan’s continuing clashes with China, Taiwan and South Korea over islands it claims has now raised concerns from Vietnam.

At the ASEAN Maritime Forum in Manila, Vietnam has expressed concern over Japan’s sovereignty disputes over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, and the Takeshima Islands off South Korea’s coast that Korea claims as the Dokdo Islands.  Although Vietnam gingerly expressed its concerns, avoiding specific references by name, it was clear that “we share the common belief that the parties concerned must, now more than ever, act with restraint and settle their disputes by peaceful means and fully respect international law, especially the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Vietnam told the forum “the same goes for the South China Sea,” a reference to the Senkaku Islands that China and Taiwan claim, despite Japan’s renewed posture on sovereignty.  Vietnam told the forum “we must work together so as not to allow disputes and differences to escalate into conflicts, but to ensure their peaceful settlement, including provisions related to exclusive economic zones and the continental shelf of coastal states.”

Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, China and Taiwan all have overlapping claims to various islands, reefs and outcroppings in the South China Sea.  In some cases in recent years, the Philippines and Vietnam have taken China to task as they insisted on protecting their territorial claims in the area.  Although China recognizes coastal states to claim a 200 nautical miles economic zone, it insists this does not extend to sovereignty claims.

Beijing maintains its claims are mostly on the basis of historical activities.