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Coast Guard conducting geological survey of EEZ to counter China’s continental shelf claim

It was learned that the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) has started to conduct detailed geological surveys in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to counter China’s claim that its continental shelf extends to Japan’s EEZ in the East China Sea. China has been conducting unauthorized surveys of the seabed in the EEZ, so the JCG plans to use more advanced ships to step up its surveys, in order to safeguard Japan’s maritime interests.


In 2012, China applied to the UN Continental Shelf Commission to recognize the extension of its continental shelf to the Okinawa Trough deep into the Japanese side of the median line between the two countries. This was rejected by the commission due to Japan’s objection. In the six years up to 2017, China conducted a total of 71 maritime surveys without Japan’s permission.


The JCG is using large survey ships to conduct substratum studies in the East China Sea EEZ for the first time in the current fiscal year. Bottom samplers are used to collect seabed sediments for detailed composition analysis by a private research institution.


A new survey ship to be deployed by the JCG in FY20 will also have geological collection equipment onboard to further reinforce surveying work. A government source says: “China’s claim has no basis in international law. It is necessary to make accurate studies to prove the legitimacy of Japan’s position.” (Abridged)

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