THE world appears a lot smaller when nations advance their respective claims to a part of the planet. One particular area of interest supporting this point is Southeast Asia.

President Benigno Aquino III recently expressed his stand regarding the claim of China that it owns the South China Sea, including areas that are part of Philippine territory. Making his first state visit to Tokyo in Japan, Aquino was reported to have drawn a parallel between present-day China and Nazi Germany during World War II.

In a speech, the President hinted that, like the expansionist Nazi Germany of old, Beijing cannot be appeased in its effort to assert its supposed ownership of areas in the South China Sea. The President’s remark came as the uproar grows over the quickening pace of China’s island-building activities in Southeast Asia’s waters.

China is constructing a runway in one of the islands it created. The runway has been described as being long enough as landing area but is rather large that it can comfortably accommodate big military planes.

“I’m an amateur student of history,” President Aquino said, “and I’m reminded of…how Germany was testing the waters and what the response was by the other European powers…If somebody said stop to (Adolf) Hitler at that point in time or to Germany at that point in time, we would have avoided World War II.”

China has rejected US demands to stop all reclamation works in the South China Sea, which is a major shipping route and is believed to hold a big reserve of oil and gas. China has insisted that Beijing has sovereignty over the area although other claimants like the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan are vehemently opposing it.

The central point here, though, is that Washington and its Asian allies, including Tokyo (which also has a territorial problem with Beijing in the East China Sea), has warned that ignoring international laws could threaten the freedom of navigation in the region.

Aquino criticized what he termed as “China’s unlawful territorial claim” and praised Tokyo for demonstrating solidarity with the Philippines in looking for a solution to the dilemma.

Japan, in a way, considered Aquino’s efforts as a worthy show of concern for our territorial claim.

During the President’s four-day visit, he will hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe regarding mutual defense and security. Then they will sign a deal confirming an agreement for the provision of ten patrol vessels to the Philippine Coast Guard to increase the Philippines’ capability to meet outside threats.

The deal is expected to better cement the ties and improve the relationship of the two Asian allies. To recall, Japan invaded the Philippines during World War II and its troops committed atrocities here.