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Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2006

Tokyo, Seoul agree on joint ocean survey


Staff writer

Tokyo and Seoul have agreed to conduct a joint radiation survey at six locations in the Sea of Japan, including three spots near the disputed islets, by the end of October, a senior Foreign Ministry official said Monday.

The agreement is expected to defuse tensions between the two countries over the islets -- called Dokdo by South Korea, which administers them, and Takeshima by Japan -- and the boundaries of the two nations' exclusive economic zones, at least for the time being.

The three other points in the survey are east of the disputed area in the Japanese EEZ, Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi told a news conference in Tokyo.

Yachi, who returned recently from negotiations in Seoul, said the two countries will continue their talks on where the EEZ boundary should be drawn around the disputed islets.

Japan has conducted an annual radiation survey in the Sea of Japan -- including the three points near the islets -- since 1993 to check the levels of radiation from waste dumped by the former Soviet Union.

The two nations faced a diplomatic crisis in April when Seoul opposed the Japan Coast Guard's plan to dispatch two survey ships for a scientific survey of another kind in the disputed EEZ area around the islets. Japan eventually dropped the dispatch plan.

Officials from both countries will be on board the survey ships, which will measure radiation levels in the water and seabed. The two countries will share the data collected, Yachi said.

During the talks last week, Seoul proposed that the three sites in the Japanese EEZ be added, on top of the three spots near the disputed EEZ area.



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The Japan Times

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