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Asia Minute: North Korea, China, Japan and South Korea: The Squid Divide

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

(As you’ve been hearing today on NPR,) U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is in Japan today, the next stop on his travels in Asia after spending a couple of days in South Korea.  While tensions continue on the Korean peninsula, two U.S. allies are cooperating on a regional dispute of a very different kind. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


Relations between South Korea and Japan are complicated by history but drawn together by the shared threat of North Korea.

There are other ties and shared interests. There are also disputes—on possession of islands—even on what to call the body of water between the two countries.

In Seoul it’s known as the “East Sea.”

In Tokyo it’s called the “Sea of Japan.”

But there is agreement on at least one creature swimming in those waters: squid.

Fishermen from both countries agree squid is being fished illegally by ships from China and North Korea.

Kyodo News reports that late last week, the Japan Squid Fisheries Association met with its South Korean counterpart.

The two groups agreed to press their governments to crack down on illegal fishing in the area—and also to file a protest with China.

The Beijing government subsidizes its fishing fleets—especially with fuel allowances to expand their territorial reach.

The Financial Times reports that half the seafood caught by the Chinese fleet outside its home waters is re-exported—while more than half of that catch now consists of squid. 

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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