Tokyo protested to Beijing over unauthorized research in Japan’s EEZ

Japanese Cabinet Secretary General Yoshihide Suga stressed that the Chinese side has not received permission from the Japanese authorities to conduct research in the EEZ near Okinotori Island.

The Government of Japan protested to China over unauthorized research activities allegedly carried out by a Chinese vessel in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the uninhabited island of Okinotori in the Philippine Sea, which is administratively part of Tokyo Metropolitan Prefecture. This was reported by Yoshihide Suga, Secretary-General of the Cabinet of Ministers of Japan, at a regular press conference on Friday.

“We have expressed our protest and demand through diplomatic channels to stop any unauthorized research activities in the area of our exclusive economic zone”,  –  he said. Suga stressed that the Chinese side did not receive permission from Japanese authorities to conduct research in the EEZ near Okinotori Island.

On Thursday, the coast guard of Japan in the EEZ near the uninhabited island of Okinotori recorded a research vessel under the flag of China, which was pulled by a cable going under the water, from which the Japanese side concluded that the vessel is conducting some research work.

The Chinese authorities believe that Okinotori is not an island and therefore the international rules for research do not apply to the territory around it. Beijing does not recognize Japan’s demarcation of the two countries’ economic zones and argues that it should go much further east, almost off the southern Japanese island of Okinawa. Under international law, a dispute of this nature can be settled by agreement between the two countries. The situation is also aggravated by the problem of the uninhabited Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands in the East China Sea, which are under Tokyo’s control. Beijing considers them to be its illegally occupied territories and regularly sends patrol boats to the islands to confirm this position.