TOKYO Oct 12 Japan has protested to China over
signs it is pressing ahead with maritime gas exploration in the
East China Sea despite Tokyo's repeated requests to stop,
Japan's top government spokesman said on Wednesday.
The exploration platforms are on the Chinese side of the
median line between the two countries, but Japan accuses China
of ignoring a 2008 agreement to maintain cooperation on
resources development in an area where no official border has
China said in July it had every right to drill in the East
China Sea close to waters disputed with Japan, adding that it
did not recognise the "unilateral" Japanese median line setting
a boundary between the two.
Ties between China and Japan, the world's second- and
third-largest economies, have already been strained by their
conflicting claims over a group of tiny East China Sea islets
and the legacy of Japan's wartime aggression.
"Earlier this month, flares were newly witnessed at two of
the gas exploration platforms China had installed in the East
China Sea," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told
"It is extremely regrettable that China, despite our
multiple representations, is carrying on with unilateral
development in an area where no maritime border has been set. We
protested to China through diplomatic channels right away."
Japan is also at adds with China's South China Sea claims.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more
than $5 trillion of trade moves annually. Brunei, Malaysia, the
Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims.
Japan has no territorial claims over the waters, but much of
the trade is to and from Japanese ports.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Nick Macfie)