Recently the Exite News reported the following:
On the 24th at the Liberal-Democratic Party's Foreign Affairs Division the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry clearly noticed the high possibility that China had launched digging work at the "White Birch (Shirakaba)" gas field at East China Sea (Chinese called Chunxiao = [shungyou]). After the collision event of a Chinese fishing boat in Okinawa Prefecture in the vicinity of Senkaku Islands, it was confirmed that it could be seen that machine parts thought to be drilling equipment for ocean excavation work were carried in by China at "White Birch" , and Japan was warning China through diplomatic channels to refrain from action that could be misunderstood as the digging work had started.
In answering the question from the Liberal-Democratic Party as whether there was any movement by China in the gas field, the person from the ministry who was present said "It is recognized that the possibility of digging was high though it was not clear because a visit to the site had not been done". On the other hand, the person from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who was present said, ｢No final confirmation of digging is taken. However, it is suggested that new things including machine parts have been brought in by the China side｣.
It seems that the gas field dispute may become another flash point for diplomatic conflicts between China and Japan if both countries continue with their high profile arguments.