Furthermore, according to the second clause of the agreement’s second article, the model of cooperation in the special cooperation area will be decided through talks by a Taiwan-Japan fisheries commission. According to the regulations on setting up this temporary enforcement line, this area is part of the territorial waters claimed by Taiwan, but it has now been converted into waters jointly managed by Taiwan and Japan.
In addition, Article Four of the agreement stipulates that “no item of the agreement, or no measure adopted for the sake of its implementation, may be perceived as affecting the position of the two parties’ competent authorities on any issue related to the law of the seas.”
This text is not specific enough. What does “any issue related to the law of the seas” mean? The agreement is restricted to fisheries issues, but does that mean that resource surveys and explorations by the two parties can be restricted due to fisheries issues?
Taiwan and Japan have no diplomatic relations, and that was one of the reasons why the two countries were unable to conclude an agreement for many years. Today, the situation has changed and, with Taiwan making greater concessions, the two sides have reached an agreement. One significant outcome of this is that this agreement can be used as a model by Taiwan when negotiating overlapping water claims with other neighboring countries, for example, the Philippines.
At a time when both Taiwan and Japan are in great need of resources, Japan should use the current amicable atmosphere to follow up on this agreement by negotiating an agreement with Taiwan on the exploration of resources in the area.
Chen Hurng-yu is a professor in the Graduate Institute of Asian Studies at Tamkang University.
Translated by Perry Svensson