World / Asia-Pacific

Analysis: South China Sea arbitration panel manipulated

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-07-18 10:55

Four of the five members of the illegal arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea case were appointed by Shunji Yanai, former president of the Inter­national Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Rightist, hawkish, close to Japanese Prime Minis­ter Shinzo Abe, pro-­US, unfriendly to China ... these are tags often associated with Yanai. One member was desig­nated by the Philippines.

Yanai entered the Japanese Foreign Ministry after gradua­tion, following in his father's steps. The younger Yanai became Japanese ambassador to the United States in 1999.

"He is ... bold and some­ times controversial, and some­ how gets away with things that would most likely cost some­one else his career," said Fumiko Halloran in his review of Yanai's book, Rapid Changes in Diplomacy.

Yanai had to leave the For­eign Ministry along with three other officials amid a series of embezzlement scandals within the ministry.

According to Japanese newspaper Nikkei, when Yanai was director-­general of the Treaties Bureau of the Foreign Ministry during the 1990-­91 Gulf War, he helped push through parliament an act allowing Japan to send Self-De­fense Forces abroad for UN peacekeeping operations. In 1992, Japan dispatched some 600 soldiers and 75 police offi­cers to Cambodia for peace­-keeping operations.

In 2007, Yanai served as chairman of a panel to advise Abe on revising the Constitu­tion to allow military actions overseas. After Abe took office again in 2012, it was also Yanai who in 2014 presented a report advocating lifting the ban. In 2015, Japan enacted laws dropping the ban.

In 2011, Yanai became the first Japanese to be president of ITLOS. After the Philippines unilaterally initiated the case against China in 2013, Yanai created a five­-member tribunal.

In August 2013, when he was still choosing arbitrators, Yanai stressed on an NHK TV pro­gram that Japan's islands are "under threat" and that Japan has "enemies" and needs to improve its military strength for safeguarding security.

"From the result of the arbi­tration, people can see that it was conducted by a bunch of people who knew very little about the South China Sea issues," said Motofumi Asai, a former official of the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Japanese political analyst Jiro Honzawa said: "The Philip­pines was abetted by the US and Japan to apply for arbitra­tion, because the latter two want to contain China."


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