Japan may conduct a maritime survey near the disputed islets in the Sea of Japan if South Korea proposes naming seafloor topography near the area in the future, Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi said Monday.

The recent row between Japan and South Korea was diffused after Yachi and Yu Myung Hwan, South Korea’s first vice minister for foreign affairs and trade, agreed Saturday in Seoul that Japan would give up its plan to conduct such a survey and that South Korea would cancel plans to name the seafloor topography at an international conference scheduled for June in Germany.

“Theoretically speaking, we could conduct a survey if the South Korean side again makes a different move as (the survey) is our legitimate right,” Yachi said at a news conference Monday.

His remarks imply that Japan will not rule out surveying if South Korea again decides to move toward naming the seafloor topography.

“A similar recurrence should be prevented,” Yachi said, referring to the recent tension.

For such an end, the two countries agreed to resume talks possibly in May on demarcating their exclusive economic zones in the waters near the islets known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea. Such talks have been suspended since 2000.

Seoul had protested Japan’s scientific survey near the small rocky outcrops in an area both countries claim to be within their EEZs.

Tensions had mounted when Seoul had said it would make “stern responses” if Japan proceeded with the survey. The South Korean coast guard had deployed more than 18 patrol and other vessels around the South Korean-administered islets to deal with the situation.

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