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Expanded South Korean ADIZ should not heighten tensions

Publication Date : 12-12-2013

 

The South Korean government has announced it will expand its air defense identification zone effective Sunday to include a disputed submerged rock, over which both Seoul and Beijing claim jurisdiction, in a protest to China’s unilateral creation of an ADIZ that includes the rock.

The ADIZ to be established by South Korea partially overlaps that of Japan, and all three nations’ ADIZs overlap the rock.

South Korea’s move concerns air zone over the East China Sea, over which tension has already escalated as a result of China’s outrageous creation of its ADIZ. It is hoped South Korea will exercise prudence and self-control in operating its expanded ADIZ, to prevent unwanted friction or an emergency.

South Korea made a point of giving prior notice to Japan, the United States and others of the expansion of its ADIZ. It also has made it clear that it would hold talks separately with Japan and China to prevent accidental clashes that might occur as a result of overlapping ADIZs.

The expanded zone falls under the Incheon Flight Information Region, a zone in which South Korea controls commercial airline traffic. There will thus be no change: Airlines will not need to resubmit their flight plans after the expanded zone takes effect.

South Korea’s move must not hamper cooperation among Tokyo, Washington and Seoul, which have taken concerted actions to reject China’s ADIZ. Hindering cooperation would play right into China’s hands.

It was unavoidable that Japan and the United States made a political decision to condone South Korea’s ADIZ.

Disregarding international norms, China has threatened to take an emergency, armed response to any airplane that passes through its ADIZ without obeying instructions.

It is hard to dismiss concerns about a possible accidental clash with Chinese military aircraft when Self-Defense Force and South Korean military planes come dangerously close to them after being scrambled and sent into the overlapping air zone.

ADIZ is not airspace

Japan and South Korea already report to each other prior to SDF and South Korean military planes entering each other’s ADIZ. A mechanism must be set up to ensure the safety of such airplanes flying through overlapping air zone.

An active exchange of information over security matters between the two nations will contribute to stability in the region.

In South Korea, initial discussions over expanding its air zone were heated because the issue was linked to control of the submerged rock and airspace above small islands. Such a stance is seen on a par with that of China’s handling of its ADIZ, as if it were airspace.

We must be clear on this matter: An ADIZ is not airspace. It is established outside airspace as an alert zone, so the nation concerned can deal with aircraft that threaten to violate its airspace by monitoring aircraft passing through the ADIZ.

As an ADIZ has nothing to do with territorial rights, Japan’s ADIZ does not include airspace over the Takeshima islands and the northern territories. The same goes for the Ogasawara Islands, which were reverted from U.S. control in 1968.

It is imperative that Japan and South Korea closely cooperate in operating the overlapping air zone.

 

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