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Japan off base at East China Sea gas issue
Updated: 2005-05-29 08:58

Officials of China National Offshore Oil Corp. on Saturday criticized Japan's claims as one-sided and unscientific in the dispute over the gas field in the East China Sea.

The remarks came ahead of a two-day meeting on the issue that starts Monday in Beijing.

"China has been extremely cautious in its exploration in disputed waters," Zhao Liguo, manager of the legal department in China National Offshore Oil, said in a speech at a symposium in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo.

"But Japan criticizes China and launches one-sided undersea explorations, and frequently flies its airplanes and in other ways obstructs drilling activities by China, in waters that are clearly in Chinese territory," Zhao said.

The gas field straddles the two countries' economic exclusion zones, as defined by Tokyo.

Tokyo maintains the boundary should be the median line between the two countries, while China says that its EEZ extends along its continental shelf, to areas near Okinawa Prefecture.

The dispute centers on Japan's assertion that Chinese drilling would siphon off gas reserves from Japan's side.

But Wang Yan, manager of CNOO's exploration department, said that assertion shows a "lack of scientific understanding" on the structure of gas reserves.

"Reserves are not like a glass of juice," Wang said.

To extract natural gas from Japan's claimed side of the median line would require a completely separate drilling, she said.

Tsutomu Toichi of the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, replied, "We are talking about areas 2,000 to 3,000 meters underground. There is no assurance that China will not be sucking out Japanese resources."

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