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The Japanese government protested to the Chinese regime for possibly drilling for gas in the disputed area of the East China Sea.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Wednesday the Chinese activity violates their agreement to mutually explore for natural gas in the area.
Fujimura told reporters that a flare was spotted Tuesday at a Chinese undersea gas deposit construction.
The Associated Press cited Fujimura saying, "We have detected a flare, a sign that it is highly likely that there is a gas development going on... Any unilateral exploration is unacceptable."
The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded later on Wednesday—justifying its actions and reiterating its claim over the disputed waters.
The deposit structure is near to the disputed Diaoyu islands that China, Japan, and also Taiwan have staked territorial claims.
In 2008, China and Japan stopped unilateral explorations and agreed to talk about a joint exploration venture.
The latest protest triggered another tit-for-tat exchange between the two countries over the on-going maritime dispute.