Reports say the Japanese government is preparing to deploy geological survey ships to the East China Sea as Chinese state-run oil firms are determined to expand their gas drilling near the disputed maritime border. This latest issue will once again increase tensions between the two countries who are already at odds over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.
Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) has been reportedly asked to prepare two of its survey ships and make sure there are no foreign members of staff on board when it is deployed to “right up to the median line,” which has been disputed by the two East Asian neighbours. Japan has already warned China not to proceed in drilling near waters that are still under conflicting claims. While China previously slowed down in their exploration in that area, they now seem to be rapidly expanding their search for gas, which is a cheaper and more environment-friendly source of energy to their coal and oil imports. The oil firms will be asking for Beijing’s approval to build seven new gas fields in the East China Sea that would cost around $5 billion.
A spokeswoman from the office of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says that they will be closely watching how the Chinese government would react to the concerns of the Japanese administration that have been expressed through diplomatic channels. There has been no comment from both JOGMEC and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, who would normally be in charge of any geological survey ship deployment.
[ via Reuters ]
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