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Japan discloses photos of China’s gas development in East China Sea

Kyodo

Japan made public Wednesday a map and aerial photos of 12 offshore structures as evidence of China’s unilateral gas field development near the median line between its shoreline and that of Japan in the East China Sea.

Speaking at a news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan has known about the 12 on the Chinese side of the median line since June 2013. The total number of such structures there is now 16.

The map and 14 photos provided by the Defense Ministry have been made available on the Foreign Ministry’s website.

Suga said that of the 12, five were found to have been built in the past year alone.

He criticized China for continuing with the unilateral resource development, which violates a 2008 bilateral accord on joint gas development in the East China Sea.

While the two governments have yet to agree on a boundary between their exclusive economic zones in the East China Sea, Japan is concerned that China may siphon off resources from beneath the Japanese side of the line.

Explaining the rationale for releasing the photos, Suga said the government “took into consideration the overall situation, including increasing attention at home and abroad over unilateral actions (by China) to change the status quo.”

The top government spokesman earlier dismissed Beijing’s claims that Tokyo’s annual defense white paper, released Tuesday, “deliberately plays up a so-called China threat and stirs up tensions.”

The paper also expressed strong concern about Beijing’s “assertive measures” in pressing its territorial claims in the East and South China Seas.

It goes on to say that Japan has “repeatedly protested” China’s move that could strengthen its monitoring of Self-Defense Forces and U.S. military activity in the East China Sea.

The references to China’s actions were added after the Liberal Democratic Party rejected a first draft of the defense white paper. The party reportedly said it lacked details about the Chinese platform and its potential military applications.