Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



This Note addresses the ocean boundary delimitation conflict between Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea in the East China Sea. The author considers international law on boundary delimitation and concludes that the law is unclear on delimitations between states within four hundred nautical miles of one another. The International Court of Justice has held that equity is the norm to be applied to boundary delimitation disputes but it has not resolved the competition between the natural prolongation theory of delimitation and a theory based upon the Exclusive Economic Zone. The geology of the East China Sea brings this issue to the fore. The author concludes that regardless of how this conflict is resolved, equidistance, proportionality, and other equitable concerns will apply to any boundary delimitation. The Note accounts for the political situation in the East China Sea area and concludes that the possibility of reaching a solution is greater than it has been in the past. The author nevertheless argues that it will be necessary to look to alternatives to existing legal precedents to develop a solution to the dispute in the East China Sea. These alternatives include the creation of joint development zones, a compromise of the best legal position advanced by each side and an approach based on strict proportionality.