There might not be an official race to claim all the territories in the East China Sea, but sometimes it sure feels like it. The small town of Goto, located on the island of Fukue has said it will be applying to upgrade the status of three uninhabited rocks to become islands, thus making it part of Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone and expanding the country’s territory in the East China Sea.
Local authorities said that as long as they are only rocks, they cannot be used to legally mark Japan’s EEZ. An official from the mayor’s office, Minoru Kubo, says they will be applying to the national government for a name change and once they have it approved, they will be renaming Kita Iwa (North Rock) to Kita Kojima (North Island, Middle Rock to Middle Island and South Rock to South Small Island. The three are located 60 km south-west of Fukue Island and have a total surface area of less than 190 square meters, rising above the ocean surface at a level of 16 meters. Kubo also said that the area is a good fishing ground, and in fact, other countries go and operate there. “We want to keep our citizens safe and protect their livelihoods. We can do that by making it clear this is Japan’s EEZ,” he said.
Currently, there is no existing territorial dispute over the rocks, although Japan has ongoing issues with both China and South Korea over some islands in the East China Sea: the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands with the former and the Takeshima/Dokdo islets with the latter. This planned move by the small Japanese town comes at a time when tensions are still high over China’s declaration of its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) which encompasses disputed areas and South Korea’s planned expansion of its own air zone.
[ via South China Morning Post ]