Friday, July 15, 2005

Japan v. China: Why Not the ICJ?

This week Japan granted undersea gas drilling rights to an area also claimed by China. This is a separate dispute from Japan's attempt to convert a rock into a Tokyo address. But it is another serious irritant in what is an increasingly contentious and dangerous relationship.

Why can't Japan and China agree to submit their dispute to the ICJ like Benin and Niger did? The dispute should be resolvable under principles derived from the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea.

I think the answer is that the two countries don't really trust outside institutions like the ICJ to resolve matters that are very important to them. Again, this is odd. Note that both Japan and China have had judges serving on the ICJ whereas Niger and Benin have not. But maybe familiarity breeds contempt?

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