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Japan flouts warnings not to grant drilling
By Hu Xiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-07-15 06:03

Relations with Japan took another downturn yesterday when the Japanese Government awarded test- drilling rights in a disputed area of the East China Sea.

The move comes at a time when relations are already strained over Japan's adoption of right-wing history textbooks.

The Japanese Government yesterday awarded local firm Teikoku Oil Co rights to test-drill in a gas field in the East China Sea area disputed by the two countries.

China has consistently advised Japan against granting drilling rights in the area, and shortly after Japan's official announcement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao again warned Japan not to take any actions that would be "unfavourable" to stability in the East China Sea and the overall situation of Sino-Japanese ties.

"If Japan is bent on doing such things, it will constitute grave damage to China's rights of sovereignty and make the situation in the East China Sea more complicated," Liu told a regular news briefing.

"It is an objective reality that China and Japan have disputes over the demarcation of the East China Sea, but this issue should be solved properly by negotiation," Liu said.

Japanese Trade Minister Shoichi Nakagawa pledged yesterday that the government would provide full support to Teikoku's test drilling. "Since we gave drilling rights, I expect (Teikoku) to conduct test drilling," Nakagawa told a news conference, according to Kyodo news.

Relations between the two countries have soured recently due to a range of disputes, including Japan's education ministry's approval of textbooks which whitewash its wartime atrocities, and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's annual visits to the Yasukuni Shrine where 14 Class A war criminals are honoured.

Liu said yesterday that the textbooks gloss over Japan's brutal wartime past and could worsen relations with its Asian neighbours.

City officials in Otawara, about 128 kilometres north of Tokyo, decided on Wednesday to start using the latest editions of the New History Textbook and New Civics Textbook, a text that China, the Republic of Korea and others say whitewashes Japanese wartime atrocities.

"Should those textbooks go into the classroom, they will seriously mislead and poison Japan's youth," Liu said. "The point we need to make is the Japanese Government holds the unshirkable responsibility for this."

The Japanese side should educate its young people with the right historical view, Liu said. "This will help improve Japan's international image and its relations with neighbouring countries."

(China Daily 07/15/2005 page2)

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