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Agreeing With Roh, Japanese Official Stresses Need for Smooth Resolution to Patrol Boat Clash

Agreeing With Roh, Japanese Official Stresses Need for Smooth Resolution to Patrol Boat Clash

Posted June. 03, 2005 06:53,   


The Japanese government seems content that the naval standoff between Korean and Japanese patrol boats did not escalate into a further physical clash and resolved a mutual agreement with South Korea. Nonetheless, emphasizing that the event was caused by a Korean vessel’s violation of Japan’s EEZ and illegally fishing there, Japan announced that it would watch Korea’s future responses regarding the matter, including the investigation into the vessel’s actions.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda stressed the need for a “smooth resolution” yesterday, saying, “It is crucial to avoid being entangled by legal matters and solve the problem appropriately at the working-level through dialogue.” He added, “The Japan and Korea Coast Guards have had cooperative relationships in various fields to secure maritime boundary security. I fully agree with President Roh’s order to resolve the problem in a reasonable fashion.”

Japanese press reported that the two governments reached a diplomatic compromise to avoid making this maritime standoff another diplomatic hindrance along with the Dokdo dominium and history textbook issues with the Korea-Japan summit coming up at the end of this month.

A well-informed diplomatic source in Tokyo said, “The Japanese Coast Guard maintained that Japan should respond aggressively since the Sinpung-ho vessel clearly violated the law by crossing Japan’s EEZ and fled with its agents on board, but the Foreign Ministry’s persuasion emphasizing possible diplomatic repercussions in Korea-Japan relations played a key role.” It was reported that the Japanese Coast Guard refused to withdraw even until yesterday morning, saying that “Japan has the investigation authority according to the UN Law of the Sea.”

The number of Korean fishing boats investigated by the Japanese authorities for violating Japan’s EEZ last year totaled 27. Five of them were captured for illegal fishing.

Won-JaePark parkwj@donga.com