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Saturday, Nov. 1, 2008
Japan extends claim to undersea territory
By JUN HONGO
Japan will file a request with a U.N. commission to claim rights to continental shelves in the Pacific Ocean beyond its Exclusive Economic Zone in hopes of tapping into greater undersea natural resources, a government panel on ocean policies said Friday.
The request is based on a 25-year research project of the seabed by the Japan Coast Guard that concluded in June.
The study revealed that there were areas near Japan's southernmost and easternmost islands that the government could claim rights to beyond its EEZ.
After exploring the area, the JCG concluded there are approximately 740,000 sq. km of continental shelf Japan could claim rights to, approximately twice the size of resource-poor Japan.
It is the first time the government has compiled such a report.
The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea establishes rights to manage natural resources.
While an EEZ extends 200 nautical miles from the shoreline, Article 76 of the convention says that a coastal state may go beyond the limit if there is a certain amount of thickness in sedimentary rocks and the location does not require negotiation with another country.
Coastal states are required to submit requests together with scientific data to the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf by next May.
The 21 members of the commission will study the scientific data submitted by Japan.
If accepted, Japan will be able to claim rights to the area beyond its EEZ that are believed to hold natural gas and other mineral resources.
The government panel for ocean policy said it will discuss and demarcate the border with other states if the newly claimed areas overlap with the continental shelves of others.
The expansion request does not include any locations in the contentious Sea of Japan or in the East China Sea because the area of the sea is limited.