Tokyo (AFP) Dec 11, 2010
Two Japanese politicians briefly set foot on one of the islands at the centre of a bitter territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo, local media reported on Saturday.
Hitoshi Nakama and Yoichi Minosoko, members of the municipal assembly of Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture, were on Minami Kojima in the East China Sea for around 40 minutes early Friday, Jiji Press and Kyodo News said.
Television footage showed Nakama, 61, and Minosoko, 29, swimming from their fishing boat in life vests to reach the island.
Police and Japan's coastguard are set to question both men on suspicion of violating a law by entering an off-limits area surrounding the islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, Kyodo said.
Asked why they went to the hotspot, Nakama and Minosoko were quoted by Jiji Press as saying they felt they needed to do it as assemblymen in Ishigaki, the district supervising the islands.
Police and coastguard officials declined to confirm the reports.
Both Tokyo and Beijing claim the potentially resource-rich islands along with their surrounding waters, but Japan has traditionally had more of a presence in the area and administers the area.
A tense territorial row broke out in September after Japan arrested a Chinese trawler captain after a collision in the area between his boat and Japanese coastguard ships.
He was eventually freed but the dispute brought ties between the Asian neighbours to their lowest point in years.
The arrest sparked serious protests from China, which cut or dramatically reduced political, cultural and economic exchanges with Japan. The two have since worked to get their relationship back on an even keel, but the issue continues to stir nationalist feelings in both countries.
earlier related report
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in January climbed 41 cents to 91.40 dollars a barrel in London trade.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for January, gained 51 cents to 88.88 dollars a barrel.
China said Friday that exports and imports hit record highs in November, which analysts said would ramp up pressure on Beijing for further interest rate hikes and a stronger currency.
"China's crude oil imports soared in November by 22 percent, year-on-year, to 20.9 million tons (5.09 million barrels a day)," noted analysts at Commerzbank.
"China thus remains the main driver of global oil demand."
Oil demand and prices are meanwhile showing a year-end spurt, pushed by global growth and a surprising pick-up in advanced economies, but these pressures should ease in the medium term, the IEA said on Friday.
Strong growth in Asia remains the main driver of new demand for oil, but the International Energy Agency warned that inflation in China could unwind with a "hard landing".
Diesel was the key factor in the growth of demand, partly owing to the use of small generators and harvesting equipment in China. Another factor was rising demand for gasoline (petrol) for US motorists.
Elsewhere on Friday, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries raised its forecast for oil demand in 2010 because of global economic recovery and cold weather in Europe, a day before OPEC ministers meet on production levels.
OPEC, which pumps about 35 percent of world oil, meets in the Ecuadoran capital on Saturday with the goal of keeping quotas as they are, despite a recent rise in the price of oil and a forecast increase in demand.
The meeting will be the last before Ecuador hands OPEC's rotating presidency to Iran for 2011 -- the first time in 36 years the Islamic republic will be the temporary leader of the cartel.
Stimulated by a weak US dollar and a cold snap in Europe and parts of the United States, the price of a barrel of crude recently broke the psychologically important 90-dollar barrier for the first time since October 2008.
The 12-member organization has maintained its official production target unchanged at 24.8 million barrels a day since January 1, 2009, when it agreed to a hefty cut aimed at boosting oil prices that had tumbled to about 30 dollars because of the financial crisis.
Most members consider a price of between 75 and 85 dollars a barrel to be adequate, though hard-line nations like Venezuela and Libya would like to see prices rise to 100 dollars or more to compensate for the weak dollar.
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Iraq eyes 'Super Six' to boost oil output
Baghdad (UPI) Dec 9, 2010
Iraq is concentrating its drive to quadruple its oil output on its six "super fields," which analysts say have the potential to produce in excess of 10.5 million barrels a day by 2017. That's just short of the Oil Ministry's declared target of up to 12 million bpd in the next six years. There is a lot of skepticism in the global oil industry that Iraq will be able to meet such an ambiti ... read more
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