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The Diet enacted two laws Friday aimed at guarding the nation’s maritime interests amid lingering disputes with China over natural-gas exploration in the East China Sea and over the demarkation of the two nations’ exclusive economic zones.

The basic maritime law is designed to enhance maritime policies by streamlining oversight responsibility. The maritime structure safety water zone demarcation law is intended to secure safe maritime resource development within Japan’s economic zones.

Japan’s maritime policies have so far been formulated and overseen by more than one government office, including the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry and the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry. The new law will create a post of minister in charge of maritime policy and will set up a general maritime policy headquarters in the Cabinet Office.

The law also requires the government to compile a basic maritime policy plan from a long-term standpoint, subject to review every five years.

The other law is aimed at securing safety for resource development by enabling the transport minister to create safety zones around drilling facilities within up to a radius of 500 meters.

Ships will be banned from entering the zones to be created within Japan’s exclusive economic zones or when resource development is undertaken on the continental shelf.

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