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Japan has countered China’s argument that Tokyo should not claim jurisdiction around Okinotori, saying the tiny atoll representing the country’s southernmost point has “the status of an island.”

“Our stance is that we have an exclusive economic zone and a continental shelf around Okinotori Island,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Kazuo Kodama said Wednesday, a day after a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman criticized Japan’s claim of jurisdiction over a large sea area as contrary to the common interest of the international community.

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