Statement by Ms. Makiko Tanaka, Minister for Foreign Affairs, on Fishing Operations by Fishing Boats of the Republic of Korea in Waters around the Four Northern Islands
August 3, 2001
- On August 1, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the Republic of Korea announced that South Korean saury fishing boats would start fishing within Japan's exclusive economic zone around the four northern islands, with permission from Russia.
- The four northern islands are inherently territories of Japan and Japan holds sovereign rights within the exclusive economic zone around these islands. Thus it is unacceptable that Russia gave the permission to South Korea to fish in these waters and that South Korean fishing boats operate with permission not from Japan but Russia. This issue involves not only a matter of fishing but that of territorial question.
- Based on this position, the Government of Japan has repeatedly insisted to both South Korea and Russia that there should be no fishing operations in the area.
It is extremely regrettable that, despite Japan's repeated requests, the Government of Russia has not withdrawn the fishing allocation designated for the South Korean fishing boats and that the Government of South Korea has approved the operation of their fishing boats with permission from Russia, not from Japan, which has resulted in the announcement that operations would be started in waters around the four northern islands, though Japan has been strenuously continuing consultations with South Korea. Japan raises a strong protest against both countries.
- In response to Japan's request so far, the Russian side stated "Russia does not intend to affect the progress of peace treaty negotiations, nor do we mean to complicate Japan's position, and we are ready for consultations if the Japanese side so requests". The South Korean side explained that "The accord on the fishing issue with Russia is not intended to harm the position of either side in the territorial issue between Japan and Russia. South Korea, considering Japan's position, has expressed to the Russian side that the accord between South Korea and Russia is not to affect the territorial issue". That both Japan and South Korea decided to continue consultations on the fishing issue between the two countries in a sincere manner.
- Based on the position that the four northern islands are inherently territories of Japan, that the return of these islands is the earnest wish of the Japanese people, and that solving the territorial issue and concluding a peace treaty with Russia is Japan's fundamental national goals, the Government of Japan continues to request both South Korea and Russia to deal with the issue in a sincere manner. Also for the next year onwards, based on the above-mentioned statements by the South Korean and Russian governments, and by consulting thoroughly with the two countries in advance, the Government of Japan intends to do its utmost to prevent such a situation as this from recurring.
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