Tensions Mount as Survey Ships Depart

Thursday, April 20, 2006
Tensions are escalating between Korea and Japan after the Japanese Coast Guard launched two maritime survey ships toward the East Sea on the afternoon of April 19. The hydrographical survey ships had been anchored at Sakaiminato Port in Tottori Prefecture, Japan. The Korean government held a meeting presided by President Roh Moo-hyun with the presence of related ministers and announced that it will take a firm stand against the Japanese move in violation of Korea’s national sovereignty. According to Donga, the Korean government decided to be fully prepared to respond to any situation if Japan goes ahead with the exploration in the Korean side of the Exclusive Economic Zone. The two Japanese ships left Tokyo Port on night of April 18. The ships arrived at Sakaiminato Port, the nearest Japanese port to the Dokdo islets, on April 19, and left at 3:30 p.m. and 5:15 p.m., respectively. The survey ships are likely to explore waters 30 kilometers northeast of Dokdo for five days starting on April 20, but it is not clear that they are actually conducting surveys around the islets. The Korean government is set to take action such as pushing away or seizing the boats if they violate Korea’s EEZ under the Korea Coast Guard’s code of conduct. The Korean Coast Guard has been put on an emergency footing and has deployed 18 patrol ships, including 5,000 ton cutters. (Source: Donga)

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