Troubled Seas

Japan’s Pacific and East China Sea domains and claims

Authored by: Gavan McCormack

Routledge Handbook of Memory and Reconciliation in East Asia

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415835138
eBook ISBN: 9780203740323
Adobe ISBN: 9781135009212


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“Modern” history has been the history of states and empires, and the lands they controlled and exploited, with the sea (save for a narrow coastal strip) the site of battles for its control but never the property of any state. That is no longer the case. Under the 1982 (UNCLOS) United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Third Convention, much of the “high” seas was divided up and allocated to nation states in the form of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) over which states enjoyed special rights akin to resources ownership to a distance of 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) beyond their 22 kilometre (12 mile) territorial waters, and even further, to a limit of 350 nautical miles (650 kilometres) in the event of the outer reaches of the continental shelf being shown to extend so far. It was a decision that drastically shrank the global “high seas” and privileged countries that had the good fortune to possess substantial sea frontage or far-flung islands, including especially former imperial powers, notably France and the United Kingdom, which emerged with their advantages confirmed and reinforced by their possession of far-flung islands left behind by the waves of decolonization.

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