Japan has lodged a protest with the Chinese Embassy over China’s gas field development in the East China Sea, it said late last week.
“It is extremely regrettable that China is proceeding with unilateral developments in the East China Sea, even though the boundary between Japan and China in the waters has not yet been fixed,” Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said.
“Japan seeks to request China to implement the agreement as soon as possible,” he added, referring to a 2008 bilateral accord between the countries over joint gas development in the East China Sea.
Talks over the joint project stalled in 2010, when the ramming of a Japanese patrol boat by a Chinese fishing boat heightened a territorial dispute. Japanese and Chinese leaders agreed, however, in November 2015 to try to resurrect the negotiations.
Kishida’s comments came as Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda told a separate news conference that the existence of new structures and a flare had been confirmed at three of 16 facilities China is building close the median line between the coastlines of Japan and China.
This indicated that China was continuing to develop gas fields, he said. Japan has argued that the median line marks out the point separating the two countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs).
Japan’s Foreign Ministry has said that personnel from its Self-Defence Forces noticed China’s latest construction work in late May during a flight over the area. The ministry at the time released photographs on its website of the towers, which feature a crane and a heliport.
On June 4, Japan also pledged to help Southeast Asian countries boost their security capabilities, presumably against China.
“In the South China Sea we have been witnessing large-scale and rapid land reclamation, building of outposts and utilisation of them for military purposes,” Japanese Minister of Defence Gen Nakatani told a regional security conference in Singapore, without referring directly to China.
Japan is helping the Philippines and other Southeast Asian states improve their surveillance capabilities as well as participating in joint training exercises and co-operating in the development of new equipment, he added.