Japan Govt to assert 'Sea of Japan' stance

The government will assert in its next five-year ocean policy plan that the name "Sea of Japan" is established globally, following South Korea's recent moves to call the area "Donghae," or "East Sea" in Korean.

The Cabinet plans to approve the final draft of its Basic Plan on Ocean policy on Friday. The basic plan will set the nation's course on ocean policy for five years beginning in fiscal 2013.

The name "Sea of Japan" has already been recognised by the international community. However, South Korea's government and private sector have recently beefed up a worldwide campaign demanding that the name "Donghae" be listed together with "Sea of Japan." Earlier this month, it was discovered that Google has made a map stipulating both names.

The final draft of the ocean policy plan stipulates that the government will "make efforts to disseminate to the world the proper understanding that the name 'Sea of Japan' is the only internationally established name referring to the area."

The final draft also referred to a disputed gas field in the East China Sea.

The government's negotiations with China on jointly developing the Shirakaba gas field--known as Chunxiao in China--have been suspended.

The final draft stipulates that the government will "use every opportunity" to urge China to resume negotiations on the gas field based on the two governments' June 2008 agreement.

Amid China's recent moves to step up its maritime activities in waters near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture--actions believed to be aimed at demonstrating its military power--the government stipulates in the final draft of its plan that it will reinforce its protection of the nation's islands, as well as its surveillance activities.

Minami-Torishima island and OkinoTorishima island--the easternmost and southernmost tips of the Japanese archipelago, respectively--will be developed as transportation and logistic bases for the nation, according to the final draft. The government will also begin discussing making laws on how to manage Japan's exclusive economic zone, the draft said.

However, a plan to deploy a coastal monitoring unit of the Ground Self-Defence Force to Yonagunijima island in Okinawa Prefecture--the westernmost tip of the nation--was not included in the final draft.

The plan was stipulated in the original draft, but it is believed to have been dropped after the government faced difficulties in securing land for the project, as the town of Yonaguni has demanded 1 billion yen as a "support fee."

The final draft also stipulates that the government will conduct a three-year study on rare earth reserves. The government's policy to commercialize methane hydrates--solid methane-water compounds--by the end of fiscal 2018, was also included in the final draft.

The government revealed the initial draft of the basic policy to the public earlier this month. It drew up the final draft after sampling public opinion on the initial draft.

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