A United Nations commission has approved an extension to Japan’s officially acknowledged continental shelf that will allow Japan to claim waters around Okinotorishima island, the country’s southernmost island, and other waters.
South Korea and China had opposed the expansion, arguing that Okinotorishima is a coral atoll rather than an island, but the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in New York on April 26 approved the case submitted by Japan in 2008.
Japan’s continental shelf has therefore been expanded to waters including the sea around Okinotorishima island. Japan can now establish a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone in those waters.
Okinotorishima is part of the Ogasawara island chain and is under the jurisdiction of the Tokyo metropolitan government. Other sea areas claimed by Japan in 2008 are expected to be discussed at future sessions of the commission.
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