Taiwan will not make any concessions on the nation’s sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) despite enjoying warm relations with Japan, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday.
Ma said that although the Japanese Cabinet had passed an order in 1895 claiming sovereignty over the Diaoyutais, the order was not formally announced by the emperor, and hence Japan illegally occupied the islands.
“The government has been working to improve relations with Japan, and bilateral relations are best right now. However, we will not make any concessions on our stance when it comes to issues related to the nation’s sovereignty,” he said yesterday while attending an exhibition in Taipei to mark the 75th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident.
Ma made the comments in the wake of a new round of disputes over the islands’ sovereignty after members of the Chunghua Baodiao Alliance claimed what they described as “a great success” on Wednesday by getting a fishing boat within 0.8 nautical miles (1.48km) of the Diaoyutais, under the escort of five Republic of China Coast Guard Administration patrol vessels.
During a standoff with three Japanese patrol ships, Japanese maritime police attempted to get on board the fishing vessel, but were prevented by coast guard personnel. The incident also drew attention as Huang Hsi-lin (黃錫麟) and two other members of the alliance carried the People’s Republic of China five-starred flag, rather than the flag of the Republic of China (ROC), during their trip.
Coast Guard Administration officials said they did not find any contraband or China’s national flag aboard the boat Huang and the others took out to sea, but footage provided by the alliance showed they tried to raise the five-starred flag, but it ended up floating in the sea.
Huang said later that he simply forgot to bring an ROC flag.
Ma yesterday said that carrying the flag of the People’s Republic of China was not acceptable, and that he had instructed the Executive Yuan to look into the responsibility of related agencies and prevent similar accidents from happening.
Meanwhile, the Japanese government is considering buying a chain of islands in the Diaoyutais, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said yesterday.
The move could reignite tensions with Taipei and Beijing over the islands, called the Senkakus in Japanese.
“There is no question that the Senkakus are an integral part of our country’s territory in terms of history and international law,” Noda told reporters. “There exists no territorial issue or ownership issue as Japan is in effective control of the islands.”
“From the viewpoint of how to maintain and manage the Senkakus in a calm and stable manner, we are making comprehensive studies on the matter by keeping in touch with the owner,” he said.
The prime minister’s comments come after a report in the Asahi Shimbun said the government on Friday informed Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara of its plan to buy three of the islands from their private Japanese owner.
In April, Ishihara announced he was in talks to buy the three islands — Uotsurijima, Kitakojima and Minamikojima — claiming that Japan was not doing enough to protect the territory.