South Korean ships conducted a maritime survey without Japan’s authorization in January this year in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) near the Takeshima Islands in Shimane Prefecture (the islands are known as Dokdo in South Korea), sources have revealed. Last year, South Korea performed [two] surveys in Japan’s EEZ near the islands for the first time in ten years. It is thought that the recent survey may indicate that South Korea is stepping up moves to fortify its maritime rights and interests. Relevant organizations are heightening their alert.
According to the Japan Coast Guard and others, JCG patrol boats spotted South Korean research vessels trailing a wire-like object from their stern as they plied Japan’s EEZ about 30 km north of the Takeshima Islands on Jan. 4 this year. The patrol boats warned the South Korean vessels that “surveys cannot be conducted without Japan’s consent.” Later, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also lodged a similar demand.
In 2006, Seoul said it was going to submit a set of Korean names for the seabed features in the Takeshima area at an international conference. To protest the move, Japan started to make preparations to conduct its own maritime survey. The two sides edged toward confrontation when Seoul sent gunboats to the Takeshima area to prevent the survey.
A round of diplomacy resulted in the two countries reaching an agreement in which Seoul said it would halt its efforts to register Korean names for the seabed features and Tokyo said it would abandon its maritime survey. Nonetheless, South Korea conducted [two] maritime surveys last year in April and June in Japan’s EEZ near the Takeshima Islands.