The Basic Law of Sea, enacted in April with the support of all political parties except the Social Democratic Party, went into force in July. The sea not only serves as a major thoroughfare for world trade but also provides food, energy and other vital resources. It is hoped that the law, an outgrowth of discussions among lawmakers, representatives of nongovernmental organizations and bureaucrats, will give impetus to the nation’s efforts to protect the sea against environmental disruption and utilize it in harmony with other countries.

The law will serve as the basis for managing Japan’s territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone. The 1994 United Nations Convention on the Sea stipulates a territorial limit of 12 nautical miles and a 200 nautical mile EEZ. As a result of Japan ratifying the international treaty in 1996, the sea area under Japan’s jurisdiction is now 12 times larger than its land territory.

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