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Vol. 37-3 (December 2022) Legal Analyses of the Korea–Japan JDA Implementation Dilemma: Stalemate and a Way Out (Niya Deng, Jiyong Zheng)


The 1974 joint development agreement between Korea and Japan established an innovative cooperation regime in the East China Sea. According to the agreement, Korea is obligated to conduct jointly with Japan in the defined zone, but Japan holds a negative stance on the potential reservation, leading to a deadlock on commercial activities. The reasons for the stalemate are, on the one hand, due to a lack of motivation because no commercial products pay back, and on the other because the mechanism of the agreement does not envisage a straightforward solution to the predicament. Compared with the 1970s, the incompatible legal positions on the maritime boundaries and vexed political geographical relations between the coastal States make the Joint Development Zone more controversial. This study identifies alternative approaches based on thorough analyses of political and legal factors such as joint development regime, evolving rules of international law, bilateral cooperation, and regional relations.

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