Wed, Jan 04, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Taipei protests over Diaoyutai Islands landing, MOFA says

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter, with AFP and CNA

A fishing boat in Hong Kong yesterday, right, powers past another boat flying a Chinese flag and piloted by an activist organization that asserts Chinese sovereignty over a group of uninhabited islands known as the Diaoyutais in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese before it sets a course to the islets.

PHOTO: AFP

Taiwan lodged a stern protest with Tokyo after two Japanese politicians landed on the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), known as the Senkakus in Japan, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said was an “infringement” of the country’s sovereignty.

“We have noted the media reports. MOFA has instructed its representative office in Japan to lodge a stern protest with Japan,” ministry spokesman James Chang (章計平) said.

According to media reports, four Japanese citizens, including Hitoshi Nakama and Tadashi Nakamine, members of the municipal assembly of Ishigaki in Okinawa Prefecture, landed on the islands yesterday.

The group sailed to the islets on a fishing boat and stayed there for more than two hours, according to the Japan Coast Guard.

Kyodo news agency reported that the action might have violated Japanese law. The Japanese government leases the islands from private landowners and bans any entry in a bid to prevent political incidents.

The Japan Coast Guard’s spokesman was quoted as saying that coast guard vessels had verbally instructed the four not to go any closer as their ship approached the islets and the four responded by saying that they were going fishing.

“We conducted an onboard safety inspection of their vessel, but the people on the ship disembarked on a small rubber boat and headed toward the Senkakus,” the spokesman said.

The four men returned to the boat before noon and began their return trip to Ishigaki, the coast guard said, adding that the landing was a police matter.

In response to the reports, Chang reiterated the nation’s long-held assertion of sovereignty over the Diaoyutais, which are also claimed by Japan and China.

“The Diaoyutai Islands are the inherent territory of the nation. The Republic of China [ROC] government strongly opposes any infringement of the nation’s sovereign territory in the form of words or deeds,” Chang said.

Chang said the ROC has sovereignty over the islands, but added it was willing to set aside disputes, reciprocate peacefully and develop resources jointly, urging the parties concerned to work together to contribute to peace and stability in the region.

A dozen pro-China activists also headed for the disputed islands yesterday aboard a boat bearing a Chinese flag that set sail from Hong Kong on a journey expected to take two or three days.

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