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Japan Desperate To Protect Itself From China, Russia, Korea & Rising Sea Levels

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Japan, an archipelago of 6,852 islands, is in danger of losing its far-flung territories as rising sea level threatens its existence. The submerging of territories would mean Japan losing out on vital exclusive economic zones (EEZ) potentially loaded with natural resources.

Hence, Tokyo is looking for solutions to protect these territories and re-gain the ones under foreign control.

Presently, Tokyo is in an dispute with Moscow, Taipei, Beijing and Seoul over disputed islands. Japan firmly believes that the islands should be under its administration, however, the other countries are looking to hold onto them.

The dispute with Russia is over the eastern part of Sakhalin Island and other small isles which were captured by the Soviet Union near the end of WWII. Till date, the islands are controlled by Moscow with Tokyo’s efforts to reclaim the islands not bearing any fruit.

The squabble with South Korea involves an island between Japan and the Korean Peninsula known as Dok-do in Korea and Takeshima in Japanese. Seoul maintains a unit of armed police officers over the disputed Island.

Japan is also in dispute with China and Taiwan, both of which claim sovereignty over the uninhabited Senkaku archipelago, in the far west of Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture.

Newly recognized threats to the nation’s territorial integrity are rising sea levels and the inevitable effects of long-term erosion. Far-flung territories in the ocean are economically beneficial for nations as they allow it to make use of the EEZ concept.

An EEZ is a concept adopted at the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (1982), whereby a coastal State assumes jurisdiction over the exploration and exploitation of marine resources in its adjacent section of the continental shelf, taken to be a band extending 200 miles from the shore.

The law also states that rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life on their own shall have no exclusive economic zone. The same goes for islands that get submerged due to rising sea levels.

Thus rising sea levels and the inevitable effects of long-term erosion form the newly recognized threats to the nation’s territorial integrity.

Japan has already lost the island of Esanbe Hanakita Kojima, which disappeared in 2018 due to sea ice. Similarly, an island plotted on Japanese maps in 1985 and named Suzume Kitakojima is no longer there.

Akitoshi Miyashita, a professor of international relations at Tokyo’s Sophia University says that the islands also have a political significance for the government since they are an integral part of the island nations.

Studies suggest that the Pacific Ocean is a treasure trove loaded with natural resources such as oil and natural gas. If Japan loses more islands to rising water levels or cannot take back control of the disputed islands, it can no longer explore and exploit resources unilaterally under the EEZ.

This explains the significance of Okinotorishima, an atoll that is 1,740 kilometres (1,081 miles) south of Tokyo. The atoll is re-inforced with breakwaters to protect a patch of concrete that measures less than 10 square meters and is just 16 centimetres above the high tide level.

This patch of concrete, however, permits Japan to claim an exclusive economic zone covering 400,000 square kilometres of the surrounding waters.

Russia, South Korea, Taiwan and China all argue the validity of the EEZ due to the atoll being inhabitable but that argument will be moot soon since the atoll is predicted to sink in the future.

Another worrying factor for Tokyo is increasing Chinese aggression in the region. Both countries have a different way of advancing claims with Japan taking the diplomatic route and China the aggressive route. Tokyo was furious after a Chinese survey vessel was discovered around Okinotorishima atoll.

Japan issued a diplomatic protest to Beijing upon the discovery of the vessels. Beijing claims that the vessel was carrying out routine survey work. However, experts believe that China may have been seeking deep water passages that would allow its submarines to emerge undetected into the Pacific under the pretext of surveying.

In a changing world order, it is highly likely that the disputes which have been cold until now could turn hot. At stake is not just the economic windfall but also the integrity of Japan.

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Asia Pacific

India, China Agree To Withdraw Troops From LAC; The Question Is Who Will Pull-Out First?

India, China have agreed to withdraw their frontline soldiers from the Line of Actual Control after elongated discussions between Indian NSA Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Experts have questioned – who will withdraw first – Indian or Chinese soldiers?

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India and China have agreed to withdraw troops from the contested Line of Actual Control, the de-facto India-China border region, after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval spoke on Sunday night.

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The Chinese Foreign Ministry released the contents of the discussion which revealed that India and China had reached an agreement on four key points. One is that they agreed to take guidance from the important accord reached by the top leaders (Modi and Xi), which attaches great significance to the stability of the border areas with the development of bilateral relations, and put border disputes in a proper perspective to evade heightening the border clashes writes the Chinese state media – the Global Times.

India and China also welcomed the progress achieved in the recent military and diplomatic meetings, agreed to stay in dialogue and consultation and emphasised the necessity to act on the agreement reached in the commander-level talks and to complete withdrawal of the front-line soldiers as soon as possible, according to the FM release.

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In response to a question on whether China has withdrawn troops from the contested Galwan Valley, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that both sides have agreed on disengagements of border troops. “We hope the two sides could meet each other halfway in implementing these agreements,” Zhao said.

The present talks between China and India strive to prevent the border situation from worsening any further, and it is an agreement reached by the two sides to defuse the tensions, Qian Feng, director of the research department of the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University.

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“Meetings of China-India Special Representatives are the top political measures to handle the border issues, only second to the summit of leaders from the two countries, and it is safe to say that the special representative agreements send a positive signal to ease border tensions,” Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies said.

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The details of the pact, such as who will withdraw first – Indian or Chinese soldiers could be carried out in a “silent” manner, to avoid instigation public sentiments or provoking unreasonable emotions, especially in India, Zhao stated.

The India media reports that Chinese PLA troops have moved back tents, vehicles and soldiers by few kilometres from locations where disengagement was agreed upon at Corps Commander-level talks have not been confirmed by the Chinese officials.

Via: The Global Times

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Asia Pacific

On Dalai Lama’s 85th Birthday, Is It Time For India To Reset ‘One China’ Policy?

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As the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama celebrates his 85th birthday, there is a debate amongst experts whether India should reset its ‘One China’ policy. The discussions began after a host of Indian politicians sent wishes to His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama in the midst of the feud with China. 

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The ‘One China’ policy is the diplomatic acknowledgement of China’s position that there is only one Chinese government. Under the policy, countries recognise and have formal ties with China rather Taiwan and consider disputed territories such as Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong an inseparable part of China.

For years, India has maintained a low profile when it comes to Tibetan politics and gone at lengths to ensure that the ‘One China’ policy is not violated. In 2018, the Government of India ordered its officials to stay away from a rally marking 60 years of Dalai Lama in India.

Tibet has been a bone of contention between New Delhi and Beijing since 1959 when Dalai Lama escaped to Assam after a failed revolt against the Chinese. After India gave him refuge and allowed an exiled Tibetan government to operate from Dharamsala, China has viewed India with suspicion and blamed New Delhi for supporting anti-China activities.

According to experts at EurAsian Times, the fact that Indian politicians today extended wishes to Dalai Lama mark a major departure from India’s policy from two years ago.

Birthday greetings were sent by Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Pema Khandu, chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, RK Mathur, the lieutenant governor of Ladakh.

India should make Tibet a Key Issue

Speaking to Economic Times, Lobsang Sangay, President of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said that India should make Tibet one of the key issues in Sino-India policies. Similar views are shared by Indian experts who believe it is time India re-assessed its ‘one China’ policy.

The 51-year old spoke about the strategic significance of Tibet — historically, geopolitically, culturally and ecologically as Tibet is the water tower of Asia and stressed on the importance of Tibet in being part of Indian policies with regards to China.

India is home to the largest Tibetan population in exile and has always found support from the community whenever New Delhi has clashed with Beijing.

Recently, Indian-Americans, Tibetan-Americans and Taiwanese-Americans took to the streets in New York to protest against increased Chinese aggression in the midst of a global pandemic. The group held placards of “Boycott China” and “Stop Chinese Abuse” as they shouted slogans against the country.

India is not the only country at the receiving end of Chinese aggression. Beijing has also clashed with Bhutan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan and the United States.

The Sino-Indian dispute in Ladakh seems to have cooled down after both countries retreated and established a 4-kilometre no-man zone earlier today. The dispute with China in Ladakh has been going on since the first week of June and so far has resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and unconfirmed numbers on the Chinese side.

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Asia Pacific

Bubonic Plague: China On ‘High Alert’ After Suspected Cases Of Bubonic Plague Reported 

The suspected cases of bubonic plague were reported on Saturday by a hospital in Bayannur, China. Two cases of the bubonic plague were reported from the same area less than 8 months ago.

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After COVID-19, Bubonic Plague has got China and the world worried. China is on high alert after suspected cases of bubonic plague were reported.

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The suspected cases of bubonic plague were reported on Saturday by a hospital in Bayannur, China. Two cases of the bubonic plague were reported from the same area less than 8 months ago.

The confirmed cases are a 27-year-old resident and his 17-year-old brother, who are being treated at two separate hospitals in their province. Reports indicate that the duo ate marmot meat. A total of 146 people who had contact with them have been isolated and treated at local hospitals.

According to state-run People’s Daily Online, Bayannur, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, announced a level III warning of plague prevention and control. The local health authority announced that the warning period will continue until the end of 2020.

“At present, there is a risk of a human plague epidemic spreading in this city. The public should improve its self-protection awareness and ability, and report abnormal health conditions promptly,” the local health authority said.

The commission also issued an advisory for residents in the area to prevent people-to-people infection including not to hunt and eat animals that could cause plague infections.

Bubonic plague is a rare but serious bacterial infection transmitted by fleas from rodents and has the potential to be transmitted to other animals or humans. According to the World Health Organization, bubonic plague can kill an adult in less than 24 hours if not treated in time.

There are three types of plague, a bacterial infection caused by Yersinia pestis: septicemic, which spreads in the blood; bubonic, which affects the lymph nodes; and pneumonic, which affects the lungs.

The news about the deadly disease comes a week after Chinese researchers issued an early warning over another potential pandemic caused by an influenza virus in pigs. From 2010 to 2015, there have been over 3,200 reported cases of bubonic plague, which resulted in 584 deaths.

According to the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the bubonic plague was responsible for wiping out millions in medieval Europe before spreading to Asia and Africa in the 14th century.

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