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Japan oil firms to drill in East China Sea
Updated: 2005-01-16 14:31

Two Japanese companies plan to drill for oil and gas in the East China Sea in a bid to catch up with Chinese exploration in the area, a Japanese daily said on Sunday.

Exploration by Japan may heat up a long-running row with China over rights to resources at a time when relations between the two countries are at a low ebb over Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to a controversial war shrine.

Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd and Teikoku Oil Co. were discussing exploration concessions with the government aimed at starting drilling by the financial year beginning in April, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said.

Beijing and Tokyo disagree over the boundary between their respective economic zones.

Energy-poor Japan fears that Chinese exploration near what it regards as the border could result in Beijing siphoning gas from what Japan sees as its resources. Talks aimed at resolving the issue have made little progress.

Calls have grown from within the government for Japan to begin exploration as soon as possible, the Nikkei said.

Japan Petroleum and Teikoku Oil are likely to receive subsidies from the government for surveys and test drilling, the paper said.

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