TOKYO – A flotilla of Chinese warships transited an important ocean strait off Japan’s northernmost island for the first time this week, passing within clear sight of observers onshore.
The PLA Navy vessels had just completed a major training exercise with Russian warships nearby and were using the Soya Strait to head into the far Pacific. It was just the latest Chinese excursion through narrow and potentially-strategic transit points in and around Japan’s home islands, and another example of China’s growing assertiveness in the region.
But here’s the thing: they couldn’t have done it had Japan not decided, some 40 years ago, to claim territorial waters that extend only three miles out to sea, far less than allowed under international law. And, if you guessed that this has something to do with allowing America’s nuclear-armed warships to use those same narrow straits – well, you’re right.
Read more: http://nation.time.com/2013/07/18/china-finds-a-gap-in-japans-maritime-chokepoints/#ixzz2ZSz2wDaN