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|Wednesday, June 27, 2001, updated at 08:48(GMT+8)|
Seoul Issues Stern Warning over Japan's Fishing BanSouth Korea Tuesday said it will stop its fisheries cooperation with Japan unless the country abolishes its decision to ban South Korean fishing boats from operating in waters off Japanese northeastern region.
In a stern warning to the Japanese embassy in Seoul, the South Korean Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said the Japanese decision violates of the fisheries accord between South Korea and Japan and could hurt bilateral relations for cooperation in the fishery industry.
Under the fisheries accord, 26 South Korean saury fishing boats are allowed to catch 9,000 tons of the fish from August 20 to late November off the Sanriku region.
The South Korean ministry said it is considering scrapping a two-day meeting in Tokyo slated to open from Thursday to discuss plans for the annual congress of the 53rd International Whaling Commission, which will be held on Monday in London.
A ministry spokesman also cast doubt over the holding of private fisheries talks between the two neighbors July 3-4 as demanded by the Japanese side.
Asked about countermeasures South Korea could take if Japan implements the ban, the spokesman said South Korea has prepared plenty of measures in response to the ban.
The ministry strengthened that South Korean fishing boats will operate in waters around the southern Kuril islands from mid-July following an agreement between South Korea and Russia signed in May.
Japan announced last week that it would ban South Korean fishing vessels from operating in its exclusive economic zone off northeastern region if South Korean boats fish in waters around the disputed Southern Kurils, which have been a territorial dispute between Moscow and Tokyo since the end of World War II.
In response, the Japanese embassy said South Korea's fishing operation near the South Korean Kurils islands poses serious legal and political problems.
The warning came one day after South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Han Seung-soo lodged a formal protest against the Japanese decision when he summoned Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Terusuke Terada.
Monday, Han stressed that the operations of South Korean fishing boats around the Southern Kuril islands is consistent with international laws and standards.
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