Japan has told South Korea it will attempt to measure radioactive waste levels from late August to early September in waters near a pair of disputed islets controlled by the South in the Sea of Japan, a Foreign Ministry source in Tokyo said Wednesday.
Tokyo informed Seoul about its survey plans in line with its earlier proposal — rejected by South Korea — that the two sides give each other advance notice before conducting marine surveys near the islets, called Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea, where the two countries’ claims to exclusive economic zones overlap.
While informing South Korea through diplomatic channels, Japan also sought cooperation from Seoul on the survey, the source said.
The South Korean presidential office convened a meeting of officials in response to the announcement, Yonhap News Agency reported earlier Wednesday.
The study is planned to examine the effects of radioactive waste dumped by the the former Soviet Union in waters near Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East, Yonhap said.
Japan has notified South Korea that one or two of the sites to be covered in the study are in South Korea’s exclusive economic zone, Yonhap said.
In 1994, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency conducted a similar joint study and concluded there was no effect from the waste.
Since then, South Korea and Japan have conducted studies every year, Yonhap said.
Last month, South Korea conducted a maritime survey in the Japan-claimed EEZ around the islets, despite strong protests from the Japanese government, which was busy dealing with North Korea’s missile tests.
Japan and South Korea became embroiled in a bitter dispute in April when the Japan Coast Guard said it planned to conduct a marine survey near the islets, drawing a strong protest and gunboat flotilla from South Korea.
The two countries averted confrontation in a vice ministerial meeting in Seoul when Tokyo agreed to cancel the survey and Seoul agreed not to propose names for features on the seabed at an international conference.
Japan insists the two small islets, which comprise numerous reefs for a total area of 230,000 sq. meters and are occupied by a small South Korean garrison, is part of Shimane Prefecture, while South Korea claims they are part of North Gyeongsang Province.
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