$0China’s illegal placement of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf has attracted public attention in and outside the country.

On the occasion, a Vietnamplus reporter had an interview with Senator Kazuyuki Hamada, member of the Japanese House of Councilors. Following is the full text of the interview:

- China’s illegal placement of the Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is a dangerous action which escalates tensions and adds fuel to the disputes in the East Sea. At the same time, it also poses negative implications on regional peace and stability as well as navigational freedom and security. What is your viewpoint about this issue?

Senator Kazuyuki Hamada: As our Prime Minister Abe clearly mentioned in Singapore, the security and resources development in the South China Sea should be addressed and managed under the principle of mutual respect and rule of the law. Before his departure to Singapore, I exchanged views with Prime Minister Abe and suggested he make best use of this opportunity to promote peaceful dialogue with all concerned parties. I think he did a good job. Natural resources are not produced by human efforts, but created by the million-year process of the earth activities. We must be humble enough to exploit those natural gifts from the earth and the sea. As history tells one-sided or selfish power-oriented exploitation will be met with natural revenge. 

- How do you evaluate Japan’s role in maintaining peace, stability and maritime security in the East Sea? How does China’s drilling rig placement in Vietnam’s EEZ impact on Japanese defense policy towards ASEAN in general and Vietnam in particular?

Senator Kazuyuki HamadaJapan’s role is to declare and keep the universal principle of law and rule-abiding policies in resolving any conflicts and problems. Japan has a history of peaceful settlement of various challenges and hosting such a mechanism with the help of international organisations. Together with every concerned party in the region, Japan is ready to coordinate the emerging conflicts through constructive dialogues and internationally agreed rules of consultation. The China’s drilling rig placement has caused a serious concern throughout the region, including Japan. It may deteriorate the security and navigation environment in the whole region. It has already increased the political and security debates in Japan to question China’s intention and accelerate the collective security argument initiated by Prime Minister Abe and supported by the US.

- What is the US stance on this matter? How is the US expected to respond if China does not withdraw the illegal drilling rig out of Vietnam ’s EEZ?

Senator Kazuyuki HamadaThe US government has clearly indicated that forceful approach should be met with a serious response from the international community. Defense Secretary Hagel said that China’s aggressive moves over land and sky in the Asia-Pacific should not be left unchecked. As Secretary Hagel mentioned the US would oppose any country’s use of intimidation or threat of force to assert territorial claims. If China does not agree with such an idea and not attend a meeting to resolve the issue peacefully, the US will consider more strict sanctions together with other concerned parties.

- How do you evaluate the impact of the Shangri-la Dialogue 2014 on regional security and cooperation in the context of growing tensions in the East Sea ?

Senator Kazuyuki Hamada The Shangri-la Dialogue was very meaningful for every regional policy leader to have face-to-face meetings. Prime Minister Abe made clear that any dispute and conflict should be resolved with constructive engagement and peaceful means. There were many contacts among participating policy makers including China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Japan. The presence of the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand was very helpful. The initiative of Singapore Prime Minister Lee to promote a peaceful dialogue was particularly impressive. I am sure there were many constructive talks behind the official conference scenes.

- How do you evaluate the position and conduct of Vietnam in resolving escalating tensions triggered by China’s rig placement in particular, and that of Vietnam in handling marine disputes in the East Sea in general?

Senator Kazuyuki Hamada Vietnam’s attitude has been highly evaluated. Despite the difficult situation, the government and people in Vietnam have maintained an extremely restrained position. Many people and media as well as the government in Japan have admired such a controlled attitude of Vietnamese towards China . Together with the US and other ASEAN countries, Japan will continue to support Vietnam’s efforts to resolve the current crisis in a peaceful manner.

- What should Vietnam and the international community do to stop China’s aggression in the East Sea?

Senator Kazuyuki Hamada What should be pursued by Vietnam and the international community is clear. First, to establish the rule of dispute settlement through peaceful means. Second, to encourage business communities and civic organisations to pressure governments sit at the negotiation table. Economic and financial institutions should be included to find a mutually agreeable solution. Third, to experiment environment-friendly technologies to explore natural resources under the supervision of international experts. Seas are common assets of the whole globe. Their resources do not belong to any particular country but to the earth itself. Such kind of universal mind change should be pursued.-VNA