China and Japan maritime dispute extends to ocean floor mineral finds

Disputes between China and Japan over offshore territory have proceeded a step further with both countries competing for exploratory licenses to large swathes of the Pacific Ocean floor.

The UN's International Seabed Authority (ISA) has announced that it has received applications from both the China Ocean Minerals Resources Research and Development Association (COMRA) and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) for licenses to explore the West Pacific Ocean's "cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts."

The successful applicant will engage in exploration of the West Pacific ocean floor with ISA under a 15-year joint venture agreement.

This particular swath of the ocean floor is highly coveted for its mineral riches, with China engaging in 15 years of research into the resource potential of the West Pacific Ocean's "cobalt-rich ferromanganese crust," and Japanese scientists claiming there are billions of tonnes of rare earth minerals in the silt of the ocean floor.

Relations between China and Japan have been fraught with tension of late, due to disputes over the potentially oil rich Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea which have led to attempts by Taiwanese and Hong Kong activists to raise Chinese flags on the tiny archipelago.