Home GRASP GRASP/Japan Japan wary of China’s push to give names to undersea features close...

Japan wary of China’s push to give names to undersea features close to disputed areas

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NewsHubJapan says it is “watching very closely” the actions of the Chinese delegation to an international maritime organisation after it accepted Chinese names for undersea features that have previously been surveyed and named by Tokyo and are near its exclusive economic zone. An official for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo told that the applications do not, at present, “directly affect the interests of nearby maritime nations” but some officials have described Beijing’s moves as “aggressive” and accused China of “seeking to assume control over territory”. The Sub-Committee on Undersea Feature Names (SCUFN), which comes under the International Hydrographic Organisation and is based in Monaco, received 50 applications from the State Administration of China in 2016 to name undersea features, including sea mounts and ridges. The organisation released its annual report on December 21, in which it said 16 of the applications in the Pacific had been accepted while 34 were not. The newspaper reported that the sub-committee rejected most of the names because “naming them in Chinese may develop into disputes with coastal countries”. Among the applications that were turned down were eight close to the Southern Kyushu-Palau Ridge Region, which runs south from Okinotorishima, Japan’s most southerly island, towards Palau to the south. At least two of the sites that China sought to name lie in an area that Japan applied to exercise sovereignty over to the United Nations commission examining nations’ applications to claim continental shelf territory. In 2014, the panel delayed a decision on Tokyo’s application for the region, which covers 252,000 sq km to the east of the Philippines and borders Palau’s EEZ.

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