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U.S. conducted freedom of navigation operation in Tsushima Strait last December

Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that the 7th Fleet conducted last December a freedom of navigation operation in the Tsushima Strait, the body of water between Kyushu and South Korea. The papers claimed that the U.S. Navy conducted the operation to express the United States’ disagreement with Japan’s claims to waters in the region. According to the papers, the 7th Fleet has said that the purpose of the operation was to express opposition to “excessive maritime claims.” However, the GOJ has argued that Japan’s claims to territorial waters are based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The papers speculated that the move was intended to send a warning to China over its increasing hegemonic acts in the South and East China Seas by stressing the United States’ stance of ensuring the rules-based international order by equally expressing disagreement with its ally Japan over its maritime claims. The papers wrote that the GOJ demarcated in January 1997 its maritime territory in a total of 15 areas nationwide based on the “straight baseline method,” which marks straight baselines along indented coastlines, instead of the low-water method, and expanded its maritime claims based on the straight baseline method. Ryukyu Shimpo added that the United States government said in a State Department document issued in April 1998 that the low-water line should be used as the baseline for virtually the entire coastline in this area because the area does not meet conditions for applying straight baselines under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.


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