Importance of fisheries pact
Congratulations to Taiwan and Japan on the fisheries agreement that they finally signed on Wednesday last week after 17 years and 17 rounds of negotiations. The agreement will promote a mutually peaceful atmosphere and friendly relations between the two nations. With this act, two democratic countries have strengthened their relations, carrying forward the spirit of freedom, equality and fraternity.
The two nations have been embroiled in disputes over fishing grounds for a long time, but have struck now upon a practical solution to resolve the conflict.
Taiwanese fishermen will be able to safely fish in an area outlined by the agreement, without worrying about being driven off by Japanese patrol boats.
Fishermen work hard fishing in this area and have long worried about Japan’s reaction, which put them under a lot of pressure. However, in order to make a living, Taiwanese fishermen still had to sail into the waters near the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), even if they risked being arrested by the Japanese, who call the islands the Senkakus.
Japan deployed armed vessels to prevent Taiwanese fishermen from entering what it claims as its territory, thereby increasing costs for the fishermen.
However, despite applying an increasing amount of pressure, the Japanese were unable to stop Taiwanese boats from fishing in disputed waters. A total of 252 maritime incidents occurred between the two countries from 2006 to now, increasing resentment on both sides and reducing the benefits of bilateral cooperation and exchanges in the diplomatic, economic, trade and technology sectors.
Although there was never armed conflict or war over the territorial dispute, both Taiwan and Japan have incurred losses.
If war had broken out and China had become involved, the consequences would have been very serious.
Regardless of who won or lost, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) could have used the opportunity to take over Taiwan.
The concessions Japan made to sign the fisheries pact indicate that it wants to counter a Taiwan-China alliance.
We must remember that defending Taiwan is more important than defending the Diaoyutais. Also, we need to bear in mind that the main interest of Beijing is not to catch fish, but to “catch” Taiwan.
Japan allowing Taiwanese boats to fish near the Diaoyutai Islands and other Japanese-controlled islands is a gesture of goodwill that Taiwan should reciprocate by seeking to strengthen bilateral ties and cooperating in mutually beneficial ways such as making investments, engaging in technology transfers, developing bilateral tourism, furthering cultural links and in many other areas.
The 12 nautical miles (22.2km) around the Diaoyutais are still off-limits to fishing vessels and will instead be converted into a marine conservation area that will provide sustainable fisheries benefits.
This solution is very gratifying as marine wildlife and fish stocks will be granted a breeding paradise.
John Paul Lin
Dongshan, Greater Tainan
Exposing the TPP’s dark side
Former American Institute in Taiwan chairman Richard Bush has said that Taiwan must join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), yet he fails to outline the TPP’s agenda in anything but the vaguest terms (“TPP membership is a must, former AIT chairman says,” April 11, page 3).
What he fails to point out is that joining the TPP would crush the National Health Insurance system as we know it.