A new bilateral fisheries agreement was formed between Japan and South Korea early Friday morning after both sides stopped bickering and compromised on catch quotas and fishing zone boundaries, according to government officials.
The basic agreement was struck during a meeting attended by Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, Koko Sato, an LDP fisheries official, fisheries chief Shoichi Nakagawa, and South Korean fisheries minister Kim Sun Gil and Kim Bong Ho, the vice chairman of the South Korean National Assembly.
The bilateral talks began 28 months ago, and both sides were under pressure to strike a pact before the visit to Japan of South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, who is scheduled to stay for four days, beginning Oct. 7.
The main problem was how exactly to delineate the provisional fishing zone that the two countries will jointly control, because both sides claim ownership to a group of islets located in the Sea of Japan.
Their solution was to let the fishing zone encompass the islets, called Takeshima in Japan and Tok-do in Korea. But most of the griping seemed to be over the size of the provisional zone, and where its eastern border would end.
The agreement just reached sets the zone’s borders 35 nautical miles from the shores of both countries, with the eastern border at 135 degrees 30 minutes east longitude, east of the islets.
Japan was hoping to keep the fishing zone small to prevent overfishing. It was pushing for a zone extending 35 nautical miles from both sides’ shores, with the line at 135 degrees east longitude.
South Korea had pressed for borders 34 nautical miles from the shores, and an eastern border set at 136 degrees east longitude.
The two sides are counting on the pact to take effect by the end of January, when the current fisheries treaty expires, and may initiate it during Kim’s visit.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.