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Japan Seeks to Develop Marine Resources in East Sea

Posted January. 07, 2009 04:20,   


Japan plans to develop marine resources in the East Sea and the East China Sea, foreshadowing further territorial disputes with Korea and China.

Japan’s leading daily Yomiuri Shimbun said yesterday that Tokyo has created a draft plan to develop marine energy and mineral resources, which stipulates which sea areas to develop and when and how to develop them.

The draft says research on the distribution and reserves of energy resources such as oil and natural gas and rare metals used to produce parts of electronic devices will be finished by 2018.

Japan, which considers marine resource development as one of its national strategies, plans to confirm this plan in March and begin research in April.

Japan Ocean Policy Research Foundation led by Prime Minister Taro Aso is in charge of the project.

If Japan decides to include the East Sea and the East China Sea in its research in March, it will face diplomatic disputes with Korea and China.

Japan is feuding with Korea over the Dokdo islets in the East Sea and with China over natural gas fields in the East China Sea.

The draft plan said Japan will research reserves of oil, natural gas, methane hydrates, submarine hydrothermal vents and rare minerals in the East Sea and the East China Sea, as well as in the Bonin Islands and waters nearby Okinawa and Minamitori Island.

The Japanese research ship Shigen will seek reserves of oil and natural gas scattered across 60,000 square kilometers in waters including the East Sea and the East China Sea by 2018. Later, it will determine which area is highly likely to own a large reserve and begin gathering them.

In April 2006, an exploration ship from the Japan Coast Guard canceled its attempt to conduct an oceanographic survey in Korea’s exclusive economic zone in the East Sea, due to the Korean government’s strong opposition

Japan has paid keen interest to marine resources around the two seas. In 2006, Tokyo was found to have conducted several ocean surveys including measurement of water temperatures nearby the Dokdo islets since 2000.