Tokyo sinks Seoul’s bold U.N. continental shelf bid

Kyodo

Japan has asked the United Nations not to consider South Korea’s claim to an extended continental shelf in the East China Sea close to Okinawa, thus preventing a U.N. panel from handling the issue, the Foreign Ministry announced Saturday.

Tokyo submitted an opinion to that effect to the U.N. Secretariat in response to a recent request by South Korea for a U.N. recommendation on its territorial claim.

The U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf deals with such submissions by the world body’s member states. Because the consent of an adjacent country with conflicting interests is necessary for a claim to be considered, Seoul’s application will be shelved.

In its application in late December, South Korea claimed that the outer limits of its continental shelf extend beyond 200 nautical miles from its shore to the Okinawa Trough.

Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, a country has the sovereign right to exploit the resources of a continental shelf deemed part of its territory.

Tokyo filed a similar request late last month in response to Beijing’s claim over an extended continental shelf in the East China Sea close to Japan, again asking the United Nations not to consider the matter and scuttling China’s move.