Thursday, April 05, 2007

Change the seating arrangements...

In Sapporo (no news people to report on what's being said way up there, for sure, he thought) Nakagawa the Barking Mad expressed deep love for Wen Jiabao and an abiding respect for the Abe foreign policy team:

ガス田問題 中国を泥棒に例え政府間協議求める 中川氏

2007年04月04日19時06分 - 自民党の中川昭一政調会長は4日、札幌市での講演で、東シナ海の天然ガス田開発問題について「日本は『温家宝首相が来るから、それまではまあまあ』と言うが、中国は刻一刻、貴重なエネルギーを自分のものとして取っている」と指摘。そのうえで「向こうの理屈としては、取るのは当たり前。泥棒に入って家族が黙っていたら持って行っちゃう」と語り、中国を泥棒に例えて共同開発をめぐる政府間協議を急ぐよう求めた。
The premier of China is to pay a visit to Japan after a seven year hiatus. Casting China as a "thief" of Japan's natural gas a week before is, shall we say, needlessly provocative and a tad unwise?

I have never understood the obsession with the gas fields anyway, except as a proxy for METI's losing battle with MOFA. The gas cannot be piped to Japan because the fields lie on the other side of the Okinawa Trench. You cannot build an LNG plant in mid-ocean.

Let the Chinese go right up to the border and drill away all they want. Have Japanese companies do the same on their side of the border. Have the Japanese drillers link their gas lines to the Chinese network, selling 100% of their production to Chinese consumers.

Everybody's happy.

Honestly, if LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Nakagawa Shōichi did not exist, a comedian would have had to imagine him.


Anonymous said...

"Have Japanese companies do the same on their side of the border."

I don't understand; they have not yet settled on a border/EEZ. Where should the Japanese develop a gas field?

MTC said...

If possession is not established, then Nakagawa cannot rightly complain about thievery, can he? In his illustration, however, he specifies that the robber is inside the home.

So he must know where the borderline is.

mojimoji said...

Some specialists say that this is not the energy problem because both countries know that this gas field won't pay(!). If this hypothesis is true, this is essentially the territorial problem.

The Japanese goverment will consolidate it's position about the border/EEZ by establishing the new maritime law soon. I expect that the goverment will change it's concessive(at least Japan's perspective) borderline theory.

Anonymous said...

I don't ever want to get into the position of having to rationalize little Nakagawa's rants and that was not my point.

I am simply saying that, under UNCLOS, no EEZ/border has been established. UNCLOS asks signatories to refrain from exploitation of disputed territories until boundaries have been determined. Of course, UNCLOS does nothing more than encourage such behavior since it has no enforcement power.

I'd say China is the belligerent party on this issue. It has developed and is extracting a valuable resource from territory over which resource rights have not been established. I do think one can claim that no border has been established to delineate property rights and that damaging or diminishing the value of a contested asset can be identified as theft.

I guess that means I don't buy Nakagawa's formulation, but I do see why even reasonable Japanese people (a set that does not include Nakagawa) could take issue with Beijing's behavior.

MTC said...

Ross -

Nakagawa is talking about the stealing of a resource, not the violation of a geographic claim. No one is arguing, as a far as I know, that the Chinese platforms are inside Japan's EEZ.

Therefore, it does not fall under the rubric you have quoted:

"UNCLOS asks signatories to refrain from exploitation of disputed territories until boundaries have been determined"

It is neither in China's interest to delineate the EEZ nor to violate Japan's territorial claim. Given those initial conditions, the government of China has sought to maximize the benefits it can extract from the ambiguous situation.

As they say, "Sore wa oki no doku." As far as I know though, "But they're being mean!" is not a cassus belli.

Anonymous said...

Forget Nakagawa, my point is that there is a not border.

Without an established EEZ, UNCLOS stipulates that both sides have overlapping 200 nautical mile claims. That overlapping claim is the current condition. China's development falls well within that area.

You may respond that Japan claims the median line as the appropriate EEZ. But China rejects that proposal. Since Beijing rejects that proposal the reversion point is the overlapping 200 mile claim.

If Tokyo wants to push the issue it should simply pull its median line proposal and tell China that negotiations will resume from the 200 mile position.

MTC said...

If the leadership of China has learned anything (and, given the sorry history of Sino-Japanese diplomatic and foreigh relations in the period 1874-1945, they better have) it is to never, ever rely on international law and international organizations to safeguard China's interests and rights in the face of Japanese territorial and legal claims.

Put another way, history does not allow the leaders of modern China the luxury of negotiating with Japan based solely on international standards and practices.

Indeed, with so many commentators noting the present leadership's seeming attempt to reestablish the echo of the Sino-centric world system prevalent before the 19th century European imperial expansion, it would be a reversal for China to settle upon negotiating with Japan based on Westphalian concepts of borders and sovereignty.

MTC said...

Sun Bin analyzed Chinese strategy in the East China Sea in November 2005: