The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hopes to convene a 15th round of fishery negotiations with Japan to resolve the problems incurred as a result of their overlapping exclusive economic zones, a foreign ministry official said yesterday.
Gary Lin (林松煥), director of the ministry's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, made the remarks one day after nearly 50 Taiwanese fishing boats converged in waters northeast of the country to protest against Japanese patrol ships, which chased them away from the disputed area.
The fishermen initially wanted to confront the Japanese patrol boats but the protest fizzled out when no Japanese patrol boats showed up, just reconnaissance planes.
Lin said that before Taiwan and Japan negotiate a provisional boundary, Taiwanese fishermen should stay within the patrol line of Coast Guard Administration (CGA) patrol boats.
He said that following the protest, the ministry had lodged a protest with the Japanese authorities urging them to exercise self-restraint and asked for a 15th round of talks.
At issue is the formulation of a Japanese law in 1996 regarding its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, which included parts of Taiwan's exclusive economic zone within its the Japan's economic zone. The two countries have conducted 14 rounds of talks on the issue since 1996.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators Wang Tuoh (王拓) and Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) yesterday urged Japan to conduct talks with Taiwan as soon as possible.
Wang said that the fishermen's move shows that they can no longer tolerate "the pirate acts of the Japanese patrol boats" and that they have become desperate regarding the government's lack of resolve to protect them.
He said that he has asked the Fisheries Administration to confront the Japanese patrol boats as a way of pressuring Tokyo to come to the negotiation table.
If Japan still won't talk, Wang said, he would not rule out the possibility of mobilizing fishermen to stage a protest at the Interchange Association, Japan's representative office in Taipei.
Hsu said Japan has turned a deaf ear to Taiwan's appeal for talks for fear of China.
Hsu asked the foreign ministry, the CGA and the Fisheries Administration to form a task force to review the issue.
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