apanese Trade Minister Shoichi Nakagawa criticized China yesterday for sending warships near disputed gas fields in the East China Sea, after a media report said a Chinese ship had pointed a gun at a Japanese patrol plane.
A Chinese warship trained its guns on a low-flying Japanese military patrol aircraft last month as a confrontation intensified between the nations over disputed seabed oil and gas reserves.
Japan's Kyodo news agency reports the incident occurred on September 9, when the Japanese Navy sent a P-3C aircraft to look at five Chinese warships that had sailed close to a contested boundary between economic zones.
One ship trained its guns on the aircraft, Kyodo quoted officials from Japan's Self-Defence Agency as saying. The vessel "probably did not intend to shoot, but it is a clear threat and rash conduct", one was quoted saying.
Chinese and Japanese diplomats met in Beijing for two days last week to seek a solution to the long-standing dispute over economic rights in the East China Sea between Shanghai and Japan's Kyushu island.
In a new move, Japan offered a "comprehensive and final solution" by putting forward its own version of a Chinese proposal for joint development of resources in disputed waters.
Japan proposed that all oil and gas reserves straddling the median line between the countries' territorial boundaries be jointly developed. Fields clearly on one side or the other would be developed solely by China or Japan.
The main obstacle is that China claims the boundary should be much further east from the median line fixed by Japan, and its proposed joint development area would cover mainly areas claimed by Japan.