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Japan Protests Chinese Ship Activity In Contested East China Sea

Senkaku Islands

Japan has filed a protest with China after noticing activity from Chinese mobile drilling ships in a gas-rich area near the East China Sea’s Senkaku Islands that are controlled by Japan but claimed by China, as well as Taiwan, the Japan Times reported on Tuesday, quoting a senior Japanese government official.

“We confirmed that China is engaged in some kind of activity by stopping mobile drilling ships” near the median line between the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Japan and China in the area, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference, as quoted by the Japan Times.

“It is extremely regrettable that China is unilaterally continuing its development activity,” Suga noted, without specifying what type of activity the ships were engaged in.

Back in 2008, Japan and China agreed to cooperate in oil and gas resource development in the area, but talks broke down in 2010 and have not been resumed.

Now Japan’s Suga called upon China to resume the talks to jointly develop resources in the region, as discussed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last year, the Japan Times reports.

The Senkaku Islands, as they are known in Japan, are called the Diaoyu Islands in China, and consist of eight uninhabited islands and rocks in the East China Sea. However, the islands lie close to major shipping lanes, have a rich fisheries resource, and have oil and gas potential—so they are claimed by more than one country in the area.  

The identified gas field lies in an area straddling the EEZs of both countries. Japan claims that the median line between Japan and China should be the maritime boundary of the EEZs, but China claims that the border should be closer to Japan to follow the continental shelf.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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