• Kyodo

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South Korea is considering retaliating against Japan for barring its fishing boats from waters off the Sanriku region of northeastern Japan, Yonhap News Agency reported Friday.

Seoul is mulling steps that include banning Japanese fishing boats from operating in South Korea’s exclusive economic zone, Yonhap said.

On Tuesday, Tokyo told Seoul it would bar South Korean boats from fishing in its economic zone off northeastern Honshu in retaliation for South Korea’s signing of a fishing agreement last year with Russia that covers waters claimed by Japan.

Under the agreement with Russia, 26 South Korean fishing boats have been allowed to fish around a group of Russian-held islands off Hokkaido that Japan claims.

As a first step, South Korea has decided to demand that Japan retract its earlier decision, according to Yonhap.

If Tokyo rejects the demand, Seoul will then consider countermeasures to correspond with Japan’s actions.

Meanwhile, Han Seung Soo, South Korea’s foreign affairs and trade minister, plans to summon Terusuke Terada, Japanese ambassador to South Korea, on Monday to deliver a formal protest.

Japan claims the waters subject to the Seoul-Moscow accord are within its 200-nautical-mile economic zone and that its approval is therefore required.

The disputed islands — Etorofu, Kunashiri and Shikotan islands and the Habomai islets — were seized by Soviet troops at the end of the war. Under the fishery accord between Japan and South Korea, 26 South Korean saury boats were allowed to catch 9,000 tons of saury from Aug. 20 to late November off the Pacific coast areas of Aomori, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures — known collectively as the Sanriku region.

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