Japan, China to hold gas field talks next week

Updated: 2007-05-18 21:23

TOKYO - Japan and China will hold talks over the development of gas fields in disputed waters in the East China Sea next Friday in Beijing, Japan's Foreign Ministry said.

Development in the area has long been a source of tension between the two neighbours, who disagree over where the sea boundary of the area lies.

Japan will be represented at the talks by Kenichiro Sasae, head of the Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and Harufumi Mochizuki, director-general of Japan's Natural Resources and Energy Agency, the Foreign Ministry said.

China will be represented by Hu Zhengyue, head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Asian Affairs Department.

After a meeting on the issue in March, Japan said the two sides held constructive talks although big gaps remained in their positions.

Since then, China's CNOOC Ltd. confirmed that it had begun producing gas at a field in the East China Sea despite Japan's objections.

The Chinese drilling equipment is in undisputed waters, but Tokyo fears that it could drain resources from Japan's exclusive economic zone.

During a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Japan last month, Japan and China agreed to speed up talks over the development of oil and gas fields in the disputed waters and to report concrete measures to the countries' leaders by autumn.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has tried to improve relations with major trade partner China, which chilled under his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi.

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