(Adds Chinese Foreign Ministry comment)
TOKYO Oct 13 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."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on
Thursday Chinese gas exploration was carried out in waters
"indisputably under Chinese jurisdiction".
"It is a matter completely within China's rights and
jurisdiction," he told a daily news briefing in Beijing.
Japan is also at odds 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; Additional reporting by Michael
Martina in Beijing; Editing by Nick Macfie)