July 12 marks one year since an arbitration tribunal based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) rejected China’s maritime claim to the South China Sea. However, China has been ignoring calls from the international community to accept the decision and is turning artificial islands into military bases. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference on July 12, “The tribunal’s decision is final and legally binding for countries involved in conflicts. The countries concerned must comply with the decision,” calling for China to abide by the decision in good faith.
Suga also expressed support for the U.S. Navy’s Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea. However, he noted that “there is no plan for the Self Defense Forces to participate in the operations.”