Japan reconfirms Chinese development work in disputed sea

This September 10, 2013 file photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun aircraft shows Chinese Coast Guard vessels near the Japanese-held Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan on Friday confirmed new construction work by China, believed to be for gas exploration, in a disputed area of ​​the East China Sea for the second time in a row. about months.

The Foreign Ministry said it had lodged a protest with the Chinese embassy in Tokyo, after the Maritime Self-Defense Force found Chinese ships carrying what would be the ‘foundation’ of a new structure on the west side of a Tokyo-proposed median line separating exclusive economic zones from offshore countries.

On May 20, Japan said it had confirmed another construction underway by China in nearby waters. Including the latest, Tokyo was aware of 18 structures developed by Beijing on the Chinese side of the center line at sea, according to the ministry.

At a time when the EEZ and the continental shelf have not yet been delineated, it is “extremely regrettable that China is pushing forward unilateral development in the maritime area despite repeated protests from Japan,” the ministry said.

Japan and China agreed on joint gas development in the region in 2008, but negotiations were suspended in 2010 when tensions between them increased following the collision of a Chinese trawler with a Japanese Coast Guard vessel.

Japan regards the median line as the dividing line between the two neighbors under national law, but China says its EEZ extends much further.

Tokyo fears that Beijing’s unilateral development in the region could lead to the siphoning off of resources under the Japanese side of the line.

In the East China Sea, Chinese ships have repeatedly entered the waters near the Senkaku Islands in recent years. The Senkakus are a group of uninhabited islets controlled by Tokyo and claimed by Beijing that China calls Diaoyu.