National / Politics

Japan to press China over coral poaching

Kyodo

Japan will urge China to take “effective measures” to stop Chinese fishermen from poaching valuable coral in Japanese territorial waters and its exclusive economic zone near the Ogasawara and Izu islands, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday.

“We are aware that the Chinese side recognizes the seriousness of this issue. We would like to ask China to take effective measures,” Kishida told journalists, without specifying what the measures should be.

Kishida said repeated protests have been lodged with China through diplomatic channels since Chinese ships started showing up near the Ogasawara chain around mid-September. The crews were allegedly poaching red coral, which is highly prized in China as jewelry.

Asked about the prospect of a bilateral foreign ministerial meeting and a summit on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum starting later this week in Beijing, Kishida replied that “nothing has been decided” but Japan hopes to hold high-level dialogue with China in Beijing.

Referring to the coral poaching, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, “We ask fishermen to carry out their operations at sea in accordance with the law.”

“Competent authorities of the Chinese side will keep enhancing supervision and law enforcement,” ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a news conference Monday. “We prohibit the illegal harvesting of red coral.”