Posts Tagged ‘Shinzo Abe’

Tokyo governor to head new political party — “Party of Hope” — “Can we continue letting (the existing lawmakers) handle politics?”

September 25, 2017

AFP

© JIJI PRESS/AFP | Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike announces the name of her new political party
TOKYO (AFP) – Popular Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike announced on Monday she would lead a new political party into national elections expected next month, hoping to repeat her success in local polls.Former TV anchorwoman Koike, 65, launched the new party called “Kibo no To” (Party of Hope) just hours before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was expected to call a snap election for as early as October 22.

“I’m launching a new party and I want to be directly involved in it,” Koike told reporters, adding that she will remain as Tokyo governor while becoming the head of the new party.

“Japan is facing a difficult time considering the situation in North Korea. Economically, the world is making a big move while Japan’s presence is gradually declining,” said Koike.

“Can we continue letting (the existing lawmakers) handle politics?”

Koike, who spent nearly two months as defence minister in Abe’s first cabinet in 2007, quit the LDP in June to lead the newly-formed Tomin First no Kai (Tokyo Residents First).

This party humiliated Abe and the LDP in local elections in July but commentators say she has not had time to create the necessary foundations at national level.

Abe’s conservative LDP party is seen as clear winner of a national vote, with a recent survey showing 44 percent would vote for the current prime minister compared to eight percent for the main opposition Democratic Party.

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Japan PM to Dissolve Parliament’s Lower House for “Snap Election”

September 25, 2017

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to dissolve the lower house of parliament at the start of the extraordinary session on Thursday, a senior lawmaker of the Liberal Democratic Party said, paving the way for a snap election for the lower house.

The extraordinary session of parliament is set to start on Thursday.

Abe told a meeting of ruling party executives of his plans on Monday, the lawmaker said.

(Reporting by Takashi Umekawa, writing by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Nick Macfie)

US beefs up NKorea sanctions, Kim Jong Un insults Trump

September 22, 2017

Kim Jong Un

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump added economic action to his fiery military threats against North Korea on Thursday, authorizing stiffer new sanctions in response to the Koreans’ nuclear weapons advances. Its leader Kim Jong Un issued a rare statement, branding Trump as “deranged” and warning he will “pay dearly” for his threat to “totally destroy” the North if it attacks.

The exchange of super-heated rhetoric and unusually personal abuse between the adversaries will escalate tensions that have been mounting as North Korea has marched closer to achieving a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike America. The crisis has dominated the Trump’s debut at this week’s annual U.N. General Assembly meeting.

Kim’s statement, carried by North Korea’s official news agency in a dispatch from Pyongyang early Friday, responded to Trump’s combative speech days earlier where he not only issued the warning of potential obliteration for the isolated nation, but also mocked the North’s young autocrat as a “Rocket Man” on a “suicide mission.”

Kim offered choice insults of his own.

He said Trump was “unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country.” He described the president as “a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire.” He characterized Trump’s speech to the world body on Tuesday as “mentally deranged behavior.”

President Trump announced Thursday he signed a new order to help the U.S. target people, companies and banks financing and facilitating trade with North Korea. He also said China has ordered its banks to stop all business with North Korea. (Sept. 21)

“I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the DPRK,” said the statement carried by Korean Central News Agency.

DPRK is the abbreviation of the communist country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

There was no immediate response from the White House.

On Thursday in New York, Trump announced the latest steps to punish foreign companies that deal with the North. It was the latest salvo in a U.S.-led campaign to isolate and impoverish Kim’s government until it halts the missile and nuclear tests. He announced the measures as he met leaders from South Korea and Japan, the nations most immediately imperiled by North Korea’s threats of a military strike.

“North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development is a grave threat to peace and security in our world and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime,” Trump said as he joined Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in for lunch. “Tolerance for this disgraceful practice must end now.”

His executive order expanded the Treasury Department’s ability to target anyone conducting significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea, and to ban them from interacting with the U.S. financial system.

“Foreign financial institutions must choose between doing business with the United States or facilitating trade with North Korea or its designated supporters,” the order says. It also issues a 180-day ban on vessels and aircraft that have visited North Korea from visiting the United States.

Trump also said China was imposing major banking sanctions, too, but there was no immediate confirmation from the North’s most important trading partner.  China’s central bank would not take questions by phone Friday and did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

Trump praised China for instructing its banks to cut off business with Pyongyang, but neither the Chinese nor Trump officials were ready to say so. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he had spoken at length Thursday with the head of China’s central bank but “I am not going to comment on confidential discussions.”

If enforced, the Chinese action Trump described could severely impede the isolated North’s ability to raise money for its missile and nuclear development. China, responsible for about 90 percent of North Korea’s trade, serves as the country’s conduit to the international banking system.

Trump said the China action he described “was a somewhat unexpected move and we appreciate it.”

China remains leery of pressuring North Korea into collapse and has resisted cutting off its critical oil supplies, not wanting chaos on its border. Along with Russia, China wants the U.S. to seek dialogue with the North. American officials say the time isn’t right for any formal diplomatic process. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Thursday that negotiations are the “only way out” of the nuclear standoff.

Several news outlets this month have reported Chinese steps to restrict banking transactions, but the government hasn’t made a formal announcement. Asked for comment last week, the Foreign Ministry said China has always fully implemented U.N. sanctions on North Korea but opposes “unilateral” restrictions imposed by another country on Chinese entities. China’s embassy in Washington declined to comment Thursday.

The focus on economic measures by Washington had at least temporarily shifted focus from the talk of military action that has caused unease, even among U.S. allies. In his speech to the U.N. on Tuesday, Trump spoke of his own nation’s patience, but said that if “forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

Trump’s messengers backed him up in television appearances Thursday. Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News: “We do not desire a military conflict. But the president has made it very clear, as he did at the U.N. this week, that all options are on the table and we are simply not going to tolerate a rogue regime in Pyongyang obtaining usable nuclear weapons that could be mounted on a ballistic missile and threaten the people of the United States or our allies.”

Trump’s heated language was rare for a U.S. president at the rostrum of the United Nations. But the speech was textbook Trump, dividing the globe into friends and foes and taking unflinching aim at America’s enemies.

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Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

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Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@mattpenn_99 and Lemire at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire

Includes video:

https://apnews.com/0870b9d9f0d1457abe3493742d05a1e4/US-beefs-up-NKorea-sanctions,-Kim-Jong-Un-insults-Trump

South Korea says Trump’s warning to North Korea ‘firm and specific’

September 20, 2017

By Christine KimKaori Kaneko

Japan’s PM Abe Mulling Snap Election as Early as October

September 17, 2017

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering calling a snap election as early as next month to take advantage of an uptick in approval ratings and disarray in the main opposition party, domestic media reported on Sunday.

Abe’s ratings have recovered to the 50 percent level in some polls, helped by public jitters over North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests and chaos in the opposition Democratic Party, struggling with single-digit support and defections.

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Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after north Korean ballistic missile launch toward Japan, May 29, 2017. Reuters

Abe told the head of his Liberal Democratic Party’s junior coalition partner, the Komeito party, that he could not rule out dissolving parliament’s lower house for a snap poll after the legislature convenes for an extra session from Sept. 28, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing unidentified informed sources.

“Until now, it appeared the election would be next autumn, but … we must always be ready for battle,” media quoted Komeito party chief Natsuo Yamaguchi as telling reporters on Saturday during a visit to Russia.

Speculation has mounted over a snap election on Oct. 22, when three by-elections are scheduled, although other possibilities are later in October or after U.S. President Donald Trump makes a likely visit in early November, media said.

Abe’s ratings had sunk below 30 percent in some surveys in July, battered by suspected cronyism scandals and a perception that he had grown arrogant after more than four years in office.

His popularity rebounded a bit after an early August cabinet reshuffle and has since been helped by worries over a volatile North Korea, which on Friday fired a ballistic missile over Japan, its second such move in less than a month.

“If we have a snap election now, we need to explain it to the public, including how we will cope with the threat from North Korea,” said Koichi Hagiuda, a senior LDP executive, according to NHK.

As Japan faces its first impending major security crisis since World War II, it is vital to secure public understanding, he said.

No general election need be held until late 2018, and calling a snap poll could spark criticism that he was creating a political vacuum amid rising regional security tensions.

But an early vote would not only take advantage of Democratic Party disarray but also dilute a challenge from an embryonic party that allies of popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, an ex-LDP lawmaker, are trying to form.

Abe’s coalition would likely lose its two-thirds “super” majority” in the lower house, but keep a simple majority, political sources have said.

Loss of the two-thirds grip would dim prospects Abe can achieve his controversial goal of revising Japan’s pacifist constitution to clarify the military’s role. Any constitutional amendment requires approval by two-thirds of both chambers and a majority in a public referendum.

That risk could make Abe hesitate.

“I am skeptical about the consensus that Abe will call a snap election because doing so poses a risk, albeit small, to his agenda of constitutional revision,” said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University Japan.

(Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Japan PM urges ‘greatest possible pressure’ on N.Korea — “Consensus will not work” — Shinzo Abe: “North Korea must abandon all its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.”

September 7, 2017

AFP

© Sputnik/AFP | Russian President Vladimir Putin said that imposing tighter sanctions on Pyongyang was not the way forward

VLADIVOSTOK (RUSSIA) (AFP) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called Thursday for the world to put the “greatest possible pressure” on North Korea to abandon its nuclear missile programme.However Russian President Vladimir Putin said Pyongyang couldn’t be intimidated and brushed off a renewed call for tighter sanctions by his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-In as the three were in the Russian port city of Vladivostok for an economic forum.

“The international community must unite in applying the greatest possible pressure on North Korea,” Abe said just four days after Pyongyang staged its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date, which it described as a “perfect success”.

“We must make North Korea immediately and fully comply with all relevant UN Security Council resolutions and abandon all its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner,” Abe insisted.

“North Korea is escalating an overt challenge to the peace, prosperity, law and order of the region and indeed the entire world.”

Meanwhile the South Korean president said that “perhaps the time has come for stronger sanctions” on Pyongyang.

South Korea has pushed for moves to cut off Pyongyang’s key supplies of fuel oil, but Russia dismissed such a call, while China has also reluctant to take measures that could trigger instability or a refugee exodus on its frontier.

On Wednesday, Washington demanded an oil embargo on Pyongyang and a freeze on the foreign assets of its leader Kim Jong-Un in a dramatic bid to force an end to the perilous nuclear stand-off.

However, Putin once again said that imposing tighter sanctions was not the way forward.

“It is impossible to intimidate them,” said the Russian leader.

“But I am convinced that we can avoid a large-scale conflict involving weapons of mass destruction and that we can resolve the problem by diplomatic means,” said Putin.

“I hope that common sense prevails and the quicker that happens, the better.”

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Peace and Freedom Note: Putin seems to be saying sanctions won’t do any good and a military response is unacceptable because Kim Jong un will respond in a way that yield unacceptable casualties. He’s saying we have to accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state. Unless there was a military option that took out the ability to have a nuclear state and did not yield unacceptable casualties….

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 (The Opposite View)

 (Contains links to related previous articles)

Japan PM Says North Korea Has ‘No Bright Future’ if It Continues Current Path

September 6, 2017

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday that he wants North Korea to understand it has “no bright future” if it continues on its current path and that the reclusive country needs to change its policies.

Abe told reporters he wants to discuss the North Korea situation with Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Korean President Moon Jae In separately when they meet this week in Vladivostok.

Abe and Putin are also expected to discuss economic cooperation and a peace treaty between the two nations.

(Reporting by William Mallard and Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

Japan PM Abe Says Aims to Increase Missile Defense Capabilities

September 4, 2017

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday Japan would do its utmost, in cooperation with the United States, to defend itself against missiles fired by North Korea and to increase its missile defense capabilities.

Abe spoke at the start of a meeting of ruling coalition lawmakers a day after North Korea conducted its sixth, and most powerful, nuclear test.

(Reporting by Takashi Umekawa; Editing by Paul Tait)

North Korea Claims Test of Hydrogen Bomb for Long-Range Missile a Success

September 3, 2017

Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test came after Kim Jong Un showed off what he described as a hydrogen bomb for an ICBM

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un discusses the nation’s nuclear weapons program in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang on Sunday.
KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY/REUTERS

Updated Sept. 3, 2017 10:13 a.m. ET

SEOUL—North Korea said it conducted a sixth and significantly larger nuclear test Sunday, stepping up pressure on President Donald Trump in what is shaping up to be his biggest foreign policy crisis.

In a televised statement, North Korea described the underground explosion, which triggered a large earthquake, as a “perfect success in the test of a hydrogen bomb for an ICBM.” Pyongyang said “the creditability of the operation of the nuclear warhead is fully guaranteed.”

The test came just hours after leader Kim Jong Un showed off what he described as a hydrogen bomb capable of being mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The explosion at the nuclear test site at Punggye-ri in North Korea’s mountainous northeast triggered an initial magnitude-6.3 earthquake, followed by a magnitude-4.1 temblor that was possibly caused by a structural collapse, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

While it was unclear what set off the second quake, satellite imagery has captured evidence of tunneling activity at the nuclear test site in recent months. Any structural collapse might have been related to that.

Estimates of the size of Sunday’s initial earthquake varied among different agencies, but the USGS said it had a magnitude of 6.3. According to the logarithmic scale used to measure earthquakes, a 6.3 quake would be 10 times bigger than the one triggered by the North’s previous nuclear test in September 2016, which the USGS said had a magnitude of 5.3.

The latest nuclear test was estimated to have a yield of as high as 100 kilotons—about 10 times the power of the North’s previous test and roughly five times that of the atomic bomb that the U.S. dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945, according to Kim Young-woo, a South Korean lawmaker who is chairman of the legislature’s defense committee and received a briefing from military authorities.

A spokesman for the defense ministry declined to comment.

Norsar, a Norwegian nonprofit foundation with a focus on seismology, estimated the explosive yield at 120 kilotons, based on a 5.8-magnitude assessment of the explosion.

South Korea’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, said after a 90-minute emergency meeting of the National Security Council that Seoul would consider the possible deployment of what he described as the “most powerful strategic assets that the U.S. possesses,” without elaborating, according to a statement from the presidential Blue House.

The phrase “strategic assets” typically refers to stealth bombers, aircraft carriers or possibly nuclear weapons. The U.S. withdrew the last of its nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991.

Mr. Chung, who also spoke by phone with Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, his counterpart at the White House, said that Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, had called for the “strongest punitive measures” against Pyongyang. That includes diplomatic measures and a new United Nations Security Council resolution to “completely isolate North Korea.”

North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States…..

..North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.

South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!

In Sunday morning tweets, Mr. Trump said North Korea’s “words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States.” He added: “North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.” He also added: “South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!”

“The national security team is monitoring this closely,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Sunday morning. “The president and his national security team will have a meeting to discuss further later today. We will provide updates as necessary.”

While North Korea has made steady advances in both its nuclear and missile programs over the course of decades, Mr. Kim has greatly accelerated the pace of testing as the isolated country nears the ability to deliver a nuclear-tipped missile to the continental U.S.

Just this year, it has conducted a string of successful missile tests that have extended the proven range of its arsenal and introduced new capabilities that allow Pyongyang to fire missiles more quickly and with less warning. In July, it test-fired two ICBMs that experts say they believe are capable of reaching many parts of the U.S. mainland.

“The Kim regime made the strategic decision to develop a nuclear armed ICBM that can strike the United States,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “It is in a sprint to deploy that capability, because it wants the world to recognize it before returning to diplomatic talks, and before sanctions become unbearable.”

However, analysts have been divided on whether North Korea could shrink a nuclear warhead to fit on the tip of a missile. Many also remain skeptical about whether a North Korean warhead can survive the strain of re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

In an earlier statement Sunday, which followed a meeting between Mr. Kim and his top nuclear scientists, North Korea claimed it had already mastered the ability to mount a hydrogen bomb atop a long-range missile.

Mr. Kim was quoted as saying all of the components of its hydrogen bomb were homemade, insulating the nuclear-weapons program from sanctions and “enabling the country to produce powerful nuclear weapons, as many as it wants.” The bomb’s explosive power has a range up to hundreds of kilotons, the North Korean report said.

The claims couldn’t be immediately verified and the report didn’t specify the date of Mr. Kim’s visit. North Korea conducted a pair of nuclear tests last year, including one a year ago this week, that Pyongyang claimed involved hydrogen bombs.

North Korea’s September 2016 test had an estimated yield of about 10 kilotons, higher than in any of its previous four tests but likely too low to have come from a hydrogen bomb.

In photos published by North Korean state media before Sunday’s nuclear test, Mr. Kim gestured toward a bulbous silver device that appeared capable of holding the two nuclear devices that would be necessary for a thermonuclear blast.

A hydrogen bomb—technically known as a thermonuclear weapon—typically uses a smaller, primary atomic explosion to ignite a secondary, much larger blast. The first stage is based on nuclear fission—the splitting of atoms—and the second on nuclear fusion, which combines atoms, smashing them together and unleashing more energy. Additional stages can be added to increase its destructive force.

That makes the H-bomb more powerful than early nuclear weapons that typically used a single-stage blast based only on nuclear fission. Those weapons are known as “pure fission” devices and are thought to have been used in all of North Korea’s first three nuclear tests, which it said involved atomic bombs.

Sunday’s nuclear test came just before Chinese President Xi Jinping was set to give a speech at a summit of the five so-called Brics countries, including Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa, being held in the southern Chinese coastal city of Xiamen.

China’s environmental ministry posted online Sunday evening that it has initiated emergency protocol for possible radiation from North Korea at 11:46 a.m. local time (11:46 p.m. EDT), and is currently monitoring radiation on the northeast border.

Zhao Tong, a fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing, said North Korea may have chosen to conduct the nuclear test ahead of China’s leadership reshuffle set for next month, knowing Beijing will emphasize stability before the critical meeting.

“It appears North Korea wants to complete the final step toward perfect nuclear deterrence before the 19th party congress because China wants to prioritize stability ahead of it,” he said. The twice-a-decade Communist Party gathering is expected to start Oct. 18 in Beijing.

If North Korea has achieved the capability to test a thermonuclear weapon, it gives it a more “credible nuclear deterrence,” as it no longer needs very accurate missiles to hit its targets, he said. “That’s a real concern.”

China’s Foreign Ministry condemned the latest North Korean nuclear test in a statement, vowing to “comprehensively implement” U.N. Security Council resolutions on Pyongyang.


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Lee Mi-Seon, a director of South Korea’s National Earthquake and Volcano Center, shows a map of a North Korean location during a briefing about the ‘artificial earthquake’ in North Korea, at the Korea Meteorological Administration in Seoul on Sunday. The ‘artificial quake’ in North Korea on Sunday, thought to be its sixth nuclear test, was five to six times more powerful than the tremor from Pyongyang’s fifth test, the weather agency said.
JUNG YEON-JE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGE
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People in North Korea react to the news of their country’s latest nuclear test, at the Mirae Scientists Street in Pyongyang on Sunday.
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South Korean soldiers sit on the top of a military armored vehicle on the road in the border city of Paju on Sunday.
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South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks during an emergency National Security Council meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Sunday. He called for the ‘strongest punishment’ against North Korea, including new United Nations sanctions, after Pyongyang said it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb on Sunday.
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Pedestrians in Tokyo look at a TV screen showing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaking to reporters after North Korea’s latest nuclear test on Sunday.
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“We strongly urge the DPRK to face up to the firm will of the international society on the issue of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula” and to return to “the track of dialogue,” the ministry said, referring to North Korea by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his country would work together with the U.S., South Korea, China and Russia on a response to the nuclear test.

“We can never accept it. We will need to make a strong protest,” Mr. Abe said.

In North Korea’s statement before the nuclear test, Mr. Kim also threatened to detonate a nuclear device at a high altitude above the U.S. The detonation could emit a brief but powerful electromagnetic signal capable of disrupting swaths of the U.S. electrical grid, experts say.

Fears of such an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, attack by North Korea have circulated for years among some U.S. policy makers, though others have openly dismissed the possibility that Pyongyang could launch such a strike.

Write to Jonathan Cheng at jonathan.cheng@wsj.com

China defends gasfield activity in East China Sea

August 2, 2017

AFP

© JAPAN COAST GUARD/AFP | China and Japan both claim islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan, which knows them as Senkaku, and regularly send ships to nearby waters to assert their claims

BEIJING (AFP) – China on Wednesday defended its oil and gas activity in the East China Sea as occurring in areas “indisputably” under its jurisdiction, after Japanese protests stirred a longstanding dispute over the region.The two countries both claim islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan, which knows them as Senkaku, and regularly send ships to nearby waters to assert their claims amid repeated diplomatic clashes.

Talks between Tokyo and Beijing begun in June 2008 to cooperate over oil and gas resources in the area broke down two years later amid rising tensions, and have not resumed.

Image result for Yoshihide Suga, photos

Yoshihide Suga

On Tuesday, Japan’s top government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga told reporters it was “extremely regrettable that China is unilaterally continuing its development activity” by stopping mobile drilling ships near the median line separating the two countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

He added that Japan lodged a protest late last month after noticing the activity but did not specify what exactly the Chinese ships were doing.

“China’s oil and gas activities in the East China Sea are all located in maritime areas indisputably under Chinese jurisdiction,” China’s foreign ministry told AFP in a statement, adding: “The so-called issue of ‘unilateral exploitation’ does not exist.”

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The gas field under the joint development agreement lies in an area where both countries’ EEZs overlap.

Japan says the median line between the two nations should mark the limits of their respective EEZs.

But China insists the border should be drawn closer to Japan, taking into account the continental shelf and other features of the ocean.

China’s foreign ministry said it rejected the idea of a median line between Japan and China, calling it “Japan’s unilateral proposition.”

Chinese drilling ships were last spotted near that line in October 2016, Kyodo News and the Sankei Shimbun daily reported.

So far, China has built 16 drilling platforms on its side near the median line, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump offered reassurances the US would come to Japan’s defence if China were to seize the uninhabited Senkaku islets, which it calls Diaoyu.

In a joint statement with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in February, the pair said they “oppose any unilateral action that seeks to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands”.

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.