By Kyoichi Sasazawa
GENEVA — It has come to light that China had conducted seabed research within Japan’s exclusive economic zones and collected samples of deep-water resources, such as hydrothermal deposits, rare-earth metals and deep-water creatures, without the Japanese government’s permission. Chinese researchers referred to the surveys in at least 30 academic papers published in 2007 and thereafter.
The Japan Coast Guard (JCG) has confirmed that China’s maritime research ships were conducting surveys in Japan’s EEZ repeatedly without the permission of the Japanese government, but specifics about their research had not been revealed. It appears that the Chinese side was looking to broaden its maritime interests by gaining academic precedence and reinforcing its arguments on continental shelf.
The Yomiuri Shimbun searched papers Chinese researches published in English and Chinses at home and abroad via academic literature sites and examined them at the advice of experts.
The Yomiuri found that descriptions of when and where samples were taken, including their latitudes and longitudes, found in 30 Chinese academic papers published from August 2007 to this past January match the records of surveys that Chinese vessels conducted in Japan’s EEZ near Okinawa and Okinotorishima without Japan’s permit.
Of them, 18 papers contained descriptions that match surveys that the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ state-of-the-art research vessel “Kexue” conducted in April 2014. The JCG confirmed the same month that the Kexue was surveying waters by dropping wires in Japan’s EEZ located 140km to 160km north of Okinawa’s Kumejima Island. (Abridged)