Sea of Confrontation: Japan-China Territorial and Gas Dispute Intensifies – J Sean Curtin

From Japan Focus: Japan and China appear headed for a showdown over natural gas exploration and drilling in the East China Sea.

Up until Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro on Monday visited a controversial shrine to his country’s war dead, it was hoped the showdown might occur at the negotiating table. But the visit, his fifth since 2001, once again infuriated China, as well as other Asian nations, putting the status of a wide range of talks between the two countries in jeopardy. Among them was this week’s hoped-for decisive round on East China Sea gas.

Japan had hoped that a final make-or-break round of negotiations on the gas-deposit issue would commence on Wednesday in Beijing, but that looks increasing unlikely in the wake of the shrine visit. “No date and time have been set yet,” Japan’s Vice Trade Minister Sugiyama Hideji said. China has already canceled Japanese Foreign Minister Machimura Nobutaka’s scheduled Sunday visit to Beijing.

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