Japan-China Relations

The Issue of Chinese Coral Vessels in the Seas Close to Japan, Including Around the Ogasawara Islands

January 20, 2015
Japanese

1. Current Situation

Since mid-September 2014, multiple vessels believed to be Chinese coral vessels have been found in the waters near the Ogasawara Islands. In light of the situation, the relevant ministries and agencies of Japan have stepped up their measures and the Government of Japan has made representations through diplomatic channels including Japan-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting.

The Number of Chinese Coral vessels around Ogasawara Islands
(released by the Japan Coast Guard)
 
September 15th  17vessels
 23rd  25vessels
October 1st  42vessels
 13th  46vessels
 14th  31vessels
 20th  24vessels
 21st  51vessels
 23rd  113vessels
 26th  102vessels
 30th  212vessels
November  3rd  205vessels
 7th  191vessels
 8th  192vessels
 10th  141vessels
 12th  117vessels
 13rd  145vessels
 14th  116vessels
 15th  57vessels
 16th  58vessels
 17th  70vessels
 19th  44vessels
  20th  47vessels
  22nd  33vessels
  24th  8vessels
  26th  4vessels
  27th  0vessels
  28th  0vessels
  29th  3vessels
December 1st  1vessel
  2nd to 5th  0vessels
  7th  1vessel
 11th to 16th  0vessels
  17th  1vessel
  18th  1vessel
  19th  3vessels
  21st   2vessels
  23rd  0vessels
  25th  3vessels
  30th  0vessels
  31st  0vessels
January 2nd  0vessels
  3rd  0vessels
 17th  2vessels
 19th  1vessel
  22nd  2vessels

Note: As from Oct 30th, the number of vessels includes those found in the seas around both Ogasawara and Izu islands as well as in the waters stretching between those two groups of islands.

2. Japan’s Responses

(1) Enhancement of controls

  • The relevant ministries and agencies, including the Fisheries Agency and the Japan Coast Guard(JCG), are working together to increase their crackdowns on foreign fishing vessels.   
  • Since October 5, 2014, the JCG has arrested ten Chinese captains in Japan's territorial waters and exclusive economic zone. 
  • Provided by the Japan Coast Guard
  • Provided by the Japan Coast Guard

(2) Higher penalties against illegal operations and other activities 

On November 19, the Diet revised relevant legislation for significantly raising the maximum fines for illegal operations of foreign fishing vessels. The revision is aimed at maximizing its deterrent effect on poaching by foreign fishing vessels in Japanese seas. 

Revisions
  • Fine for operations in Japan's territorial waters and unauthorized operations in Japan's exclusive economic zone: 30 million yen (Under existing legislation: Operations in Japan's territorial waters: 4 million yen; Unauthorized operations in Japan's exclusive economic zone: 10 million yen)
  • Fine for evading on-board inspection: 3 million yen (Under existing legislation: 300,000 yen)
The cash collateral is also set to increase significantly.

Revisions
  • Unauthorized operations and operations in prohibited sea areas: 30 million yen 
  • Evading on-board inspection: 3 million yen 
  • Additional fine for illegally harvested coral: 6 million yen/kg 

(3) Requests through diplomatic channels

Through diplomatic channels, the Government of Japan has repeatedly expressed regret to China, along with requesting the prevention of recurrences.
In addition, the following discussion took place at the Japan-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting on November 8.
  • Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida said that the illegal operation of large numbers of Chinese coral vessels in the seas close to Japan, including around the Ogasawara Islands, is extremely regrettable. He stated that, while he is aware that the Chinese side is also in the process of responding earnestly, it will be important to enhance the effectiveness of controls in China, and that he wants to strengthen cooperation between the relevant authorities. 
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi said that the Chinese side is also taking the necessary measures.