• Kyodo

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Japan said Thursday it has lodged a fresh protest with China over its continued deployment of a drilling ship at a gas field in a contested area of the East China Sea.

The protest, made through diplomatic channels, came after Tokyo confirmed that the drilling ship in January moved to a location a few kilometers northeast of where it was in mid-November, in an apparent search for resources.

“It’s extremely regrettable that China has continued its unilateral development activity,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news briefing.

Beijing has developed 16 structures on the Chinese side of a Tokyo-proposed median line separating the two countries’ economic zones in the East China Sea.

Japan and China agreed on joint gas development in the area in 2008, but negotiations were suspended in 2010.

Japan fears China’s unilateral development in the area may lead to the siphoning off of resources from the Japanese side.

The revelation came despite a recent improvement in Sino-Japanese relations.

In the East China Sea, Tokyo and Beijing have been at loggerheads over the ownership of the Senkaku Islands, administered by Japan but claimed by China. The islands are called Diaoyu in China.

The ship in question was found engaged in apparent drilling in September. It then moved in mid-November, prior to its most recent deployment.

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