Japan protests China's new natural gas facility in disputed waters

July 03, 2013

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Japan has lodged a strong protest with China over what it believes to be construction of a new facility for producing natural gas near the median line between the two countries in the East China Sea without obtaining consent from Tokyo.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference July 3 that the Japanese government has confirmed that China is building a facility using a large crane barge at the site, about 26 kilometers from the median line on the Chinese side.

Suga said Tokyo conveyed “grave concern” to Beijing over the development through a diplomatic channel.

“We cannot accept China developing natural gas resources unilaterally in waters where Japanese and Chinese claims overlap at a time when the boundary between the two countries has yet to be established in the East China Sea,” he said.

Tokyo and Beijing agreed in June 2008 to jointly develop the Shirakaba natural gas field in the area straddling the median line by shelving their differences over the boundary of their exclusive economic zones.

China had undertaken the development of the gas field, called Chunxiao in Chinese, ahead of Japan, drawing strong protests from Tokyo.

But talks toward concluding a treaty that will determine rights and interests to the production of natural gas have been suspended since July 2010.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Work to develop the Shirakaba natural gas field in the East China Sea, photographed in September 2010 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Work to develop the Shirakaba natural gas field in the East China Sea, photographed in September 2010 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • Work to develop the Shirakaba natural gas field in the East China Sea, photographed in September 2010 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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