Wed, Oct 07, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Mutiny boat heads home after confusion in Japan

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Taiwanese fishing boat captain who was threatened by his Indonesian crewmembers is steering the vessel homeward after being unable to dock in Japanese territory because of procedural complications, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.

The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) reported yesterday that two of the eight Indonesian crewmembers staged a mutiny on the ­Pingtung-registered fishing trawler Yu-chun No. 166 on Friday and tried to kill the captain Shih Ching-hsing (施進興) and chief engineer Huang Ming-chih (黃明智).

The report said Shih and Huang locked themselves inside the navigation room in self-defense and Shih called his family via satellite phone. He told them about the situation as they steered toward the small Japanese islet of Ogasawara to seek refuge. Shih’s family said they decided to head to the Japanese islet because it was close and it would have taken longer to sail back to Taiwan.

Shih asked the Japanese government for permission to dock, but the request was refused, the report said.

MOFA yesterday said the Japanese government did not refuse to help the Taiwanese fishing boat, but the docking time was delayed because of concerns about how to handle the Indonesian crew once they set foot in Japan.

“Humanitarian aid is a universal value, and the Japanese government promised to protect the safety of the Taiwanese captain and his chief engineer, but it was concerned about how to handle the eight Indonesian crewmembers and the boat,” MOFA ­deputy ­spokesman James Chang (章計平) said.

“Now that Typhoon Melor is moving westward, the captain has decided to turn the boat back to Taiwan and is expected to arrive in eight or nine days,” Chang said.

It is unknown why Shih decided to leave Japan’s boundary while the boat’s permission to dock was still being negotiated.

Chang said only two Indonesian crewmembers were reportedly in “unstable condition.” The others continued to bring meals to Shih and Huang, he said.

Chang said Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration dispatched a mission yesterday afternoon to escort the boat home.

Taiwan petitioned Japan to send an escort boat to accompany the trawler until it meets with a Taiwanese Coast Guard vessel but as of press time, Japan had not responded to the request, Chang said.

At a separate setting earlier yesterday, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus urged the ministry to condemn Japan for allegedly refusing to allow the Taiwanese fishing boat to dock. KMT caucus secretary-general Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) also ­accused ­government agencies of failing to assist the captain sooner and promised to hold the agencies responsible if the captain was killed.

During a question-and-answer session with legislators yesterday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) said MOFA had done its best to negotiate the matter with Tokyo, adding that he would ask John Feng (馮寄台), Taiwan’s representative to Japan, to propose that Japan allow the boat to dock in Okinawa and that MOFA would cover the fees.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG AND CNA

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