Thursday, January 07, 2010
Japan Ups Ante for Marine Resources
News reports say that Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has appropriated ¥700 million for construction of port facilities, including the atoll that Japan calls Okinotorishima (Okinotori Island). Building port facilities would, in the calculus of Tokyo, make Okinotorishima into a habitable island, thereby considerably extending Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Pacific/East China Sea region, and giving it exclusive access to any oil and gas discovered there. As readers can see by the linked articles, this idea has gone up like a lead balloon in China. The “island” is actually just a few rocks that are preserved with concrete works. Should Japan press ahead with this project, it could seriously increase friction that has long kept a dispute smoldering between the two countries over islands and marine gas fields.