With diplomatic negotiations deadlocked, the Cabinet is expected to decide this morning to unilaterally scrap the 1965 fisheries agreement with South Korea.Chief Cabinet Secretary Kanezo Muraoka said Thursday morning the decision on the treaty was reached in a meeting with Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi and Yoshinobu Shimamura, head of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.Muraoka, the top government spokesman, would not disclose the decision to the media, saying it will be released only after the Cabinet makes a formal decision on the matter. The decision was immediately delivered to Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, Muraoka told a regularly scheduled news conference. Government sources said the decision is to scrap the treaty, a move that is expected to further strain bilateral relations. To complicate matters, Seoul lodged a protest Wednesday with Japan over the seizure of a South Korean trawler in disputed waters off Nagasaki Prefecture, demanding the early release of the vessel and its crew, Japanese diplomats in Seoul said.Tokyo and Seoul have yet to sign a new fisheries treaty following their ratification last year of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, which allows them to set a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone around their shores.Demarcation of such zones has proved difficult due to a dispute over the ownership of a group of islets in the Sea of Japan known as Takeshima in Japan and Tok-do in South Korea. The two governments have agreed to shelve the territory issue, but the area is rich in marine resources.Hashimoto hinted earlier this month that it would be better for the two nations to make a fresh start in bilateral negotiations after scrapping the current pact. The treaty will be valid for another year even if Tokyo notifies Seoul today of its intention to abolish it.It is believed the government hopes to make renewed efforts to sign a new treaty after South Korean President-elect Kim Dae Jung takes office in late February.

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