A diplomatic tit-for-tat between Japan and China has escalated as Tokyo lodged a new protest with Beijing over the drilling of gas fields in disputed waters in the East China Sea.
The protest, lodged Tuesday, is centered on Japan’s discontent over China’s alleged breach of bilateral efforts toward joint development, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told a news conference Wednesday.
He underlined Japan’s concern over “signs of unilateral development” by China that have been observed in the areas recently.
Tokyo’s move followed Beijing’s recent protest over Japan’s plan to name uninhabited isles near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, calling the move “illegal and void.”
Japan said last month it plans to name 39 uninhabited remote islands by the end of March to establish the basis for defining its exclusive economic zone.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said Monday the Chinese government has lodged a “solemn representation” with Japan.
The disputed islets, located in areas where rich undersea minerals are believed buried, are also claimed by Taiwan.
Taipei also joined the latest diplomatic spat, lodging its own protest against Japan’s naming plan Tuesday.
Huang Ming-lung, secretary general of the Foreign Ministry’s Association of East Asian Relations, said the verbal protest was lodged with the Interchange Association Japan, the quasi-official body that handles Tokyo’s relations with Taipei in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.
“We hope the Japanese government would exercise restraint and refrain from causing disturbances to the sound bilateral relations,” he said.
The ministry reiterated Taiwan’s claim over the disputed islands Tuesday, saying the Taiwan government is against any form of encroaching upon its territorial integrity.
It said Taiwan will continue to closely monitor the development of the situation and is committed to resolving the problem based on the principles of upholding of sovereignty, shelving of differences, joint development of resources and mutual benefit for the claimants.
Beijing embassy to move
China has given the go-ahead to Japan to relocate its embassy to a new address in Beijing, months after construction of the new diplomatic compound was completed, according to Japanese officials.
The Japanese government had planned to relocate the embassy, currently in the Jianguomen area, to a new compound in the Liangmaqiao area last August.
But the Chinese government withheld approval of the relocation on grounds that the total floor space of the new embassy is “a few percent” larger than initially planned, Japanese officials said.
The Foreign Ministry in Tokyo has not said why China gave Japan the go-ahead now.
“We had consent (from China) about use” of the new embassy, a senior ministry official said.
The two governments settled the issue before the start in February of a series of events to mark the 40th anniversary of normalization of bilateral relations.
Japanese officials said embassy staff will start work at the new mission by the end of March.
Construction of the new embassy started in 2006. The compound, which was built at a cost of about ¥7.2 billion, was completed last summer.
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