Tue, Oct 24, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Activists head for Diaoyutai showdown

ANNUAL PROTEST A flotilla of boats from China and Taiwan could be headed for a clash with Japan's patrols

AFP , TOKYO

Taipei County Councilor King Chieh-shou, right, tries to force cash upon Chou Ching-ho of the Fisheries Administration in protest after a ``protect the Diaoyu Islands'' demonstration was fined NT$30,000 for using boats as part of its activities.

PHOTO: CHIEN JUNG-FENG, TAIPEI TIMES

A group of Chinese nationalists from Hong Kong was set to meet with a flotilla of Taiwanese ships to protest Japan's claims over a set of disputed islands yesterday, while the Japanese government has vowed to prevent the demonstrators from making landfall.

Japan yesterday warned a flotilla of protesters to call off plans to land and plant Chinese flags on the Senkaku Islands, which are known in Chinese as the Diaoyutai.

Japan has nominal control of the archipelago which lies about 400km west of Okinawa in the East China Sea, and is claimed by both China and Taiwan.

A protest ship loaded with 25 anti-Japanese activists set sail from Hong Kong on Sunday and was scheduled to meet up with some 10 Taiwanese protest ships yesterday.

They hope to reach the islands by tomorrow, land their ships and plant flags.

"This is a peaceful mission, we will not use force when the Japanese coast guards approach," said Hong Kong Legislator Albert Ho (何俊仁), one of the main organizers of the protest.

Ho, who coordinates the Hong Kong-based protest group Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyus, said the sailing represented more than a protest over the islands' territorial integrity.

"We view the continued occupation of the islands as a symbol of Japanese wartime aggression that has not ceased," he said in Hong Kong.

"They are part of the undischarged post-war obligations of Japan," he said.

Meanwhile, Taipei County Councilor King Chieh-shou (金介壽) yesterday said he would lead a group of 100 Taiwanese to land on the islands.

The action is also being held in remembrance of the 10th anniversary of the death of David Chan (陳毓祥), a Hong Kong activist.

On Sept. 26, 1996, Chan and other activists sailed a ship into the area around the island to claim China's sovereignty. The ship was intercepted by a Japanese Coast Guard vessel.

Chan and several other Hong Kong activists jumped into the sea to protest and tried to swim to the main island. Chan drowned in the rough seas.

King said they initially planned to set sail yesterday, but they were forced to postpone because of obstruction from the Council of Agriculture's Fisheries Agency.

"The agency tried to thwart our plan by issuing tickets to fishermen and demanding they not carry us to the islands," King said.

King burst into the office of Sha Chih-i (沙志一), deputy director-general of the agency, yesterday afternoon causing a disturbance, the agency said.

The agency reported the case to Zhongzheng Police District, accusing King of interfering with a public functionary and insulting government officials.

Meanwhile, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said Japan would not allow the activists to land on the island chain.

"It is Japan's sovereign territory, and [the activists' trip] cannot be tolerated," Shiozaki told a press conference in Tokyo.

"The Japanese government will take appropriate measures to remove them," he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHIH HSIU-CHUAN

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