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Saturday, Dec. 11, 2004

Ishihara eyes fishermen as pawns in spat over EEZ


Staff writer

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will subsidize fishing around Okinotorishima Island to emphasize that the area is within Japan's exclusive economic zone, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said Friday.

An unannounced Chinese ship entered the EEZ around the nation's southernmost territory the same day for the second time this week. The uninhabited island, some 1,700 km south of Japan's mainland, is under the jurisdiction of the metro government.

"Tokyo Metropolitan Government will prove that (the area) is Japan's exclusive economic zone" by conducting fishery there, Ishihara told a news conference.

China has said that the island is nothing more than a group of rocks and claims the seas around it are international waters. Ishihara says this is absurd.

He said he plans to have fishermen on the Ogasawara Islands begin fishing in the area around April or May. The Ogasawaras are the closest territory under metro government jurisdiction to Okinotorishima that have fishing boats.

Because it is unprofitable to fish in the area due to the distance between the islands, the metro government will offer compensation to fishermen for going there, he said. The Ogasawara Islands are about 950 km away from Okinotorishima.

Also on Friday, Mitoji Yabunaka, director general of the Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, summoned Chinese Minister to Japan Cheng Yonghua to protest China's repeated research activities within the EEZ.

He told Cheng that Japan cannot tolerate the repeated intrusion and urged China to take necessary measures.



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The Japan Times

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