Japan’s demand that China hand over concrete data on its ongoing gas drilling projects in a disputed sea zone is not unreasonable because it pertains to sovereignty, according to a senior Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official.

“When we discuss the boundary issue between the nations from the viewpoint of sovereignty, we need facts as a basis,” Nobuyori Kodaira, head of METI’s Natural Resources and Energy Agency, said in a recent interview with Kyodo News.

The energy chief brushed off the suggestion that handing over data might be considered the same as divulging a business secret or patent.

“We are not saying that we will use that data for commercial purposes,” he said. “Offering information is a starting point for negotiations to settle the boundary dispute.”

Tokyo has repeatedly asked Beijing to present detailed data on its projects in the Chunxiao gas field and halt explorations because the projects are a few kilometers away from the Japan-drawn median line between the two nations, which Tokyo claims separates the two countries’ exclusive economic zones in the East China Sea, and thus drilling could tap resources on Japan’s side.

The two countries have yet to settle the demarcation, where their 200-nautical-mile EEZs overlap, as China has said Japan’s claim is invalid and recognizes its EEZ boundary as extending to the edge of the continental shelf near Okinawa and encompassing Taiwan.

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