Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) yesterday summoned Japan’s top envoy to Taiwan to lodge a “serious protest” over a visit by Japanese activists to the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), the ministry said.
Yang summoned Japanese representative Sumio Tarui to protest the visit by a 150-member group led by Japanese lawmakers, some of whom landed on the island group in the East China Sea, the ministry said in a statement.
During the meeting with Tarui, Yang reiterated Taiwan’s sovereignty over the Diaoyutais and described the visit by the Japanese group as a “provocative move” that has fueled tension in the East China Sea.
The Japanese group sailed from Ishigaki Island in Okinawa Prefecture a day earlier and arrived in the waters off the Diaoyutais early yesterday, according to media reports.
The stated purpose of the trip was to commemorate victims who died near the island group in an attack by the US during World War II and also to bolster Japan’s claim over the archipelago, according to the reports.
The landing followed a visit to the islands earlier in the week in which Hong Kong activists landed there and brandished flags of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China to bolster their claim that the islands belong to the Chinese people.
The activists were detained and later released by Japanese authorities.
Taiwan, Japan and China have had competing claims over the Diaoyutai Islands for several years. The island chain is known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and as the Diaoyu Islands in China. From the perspectives of geography, history and international law, according to Yang, it is “indisputable” that Taiwan enjoys sovereignty over the Diaoyutais.
The minister also urged Japan to immediately stop any action that violates Taiwan’s sovereignty over the island group, the ministry statement read.
Citing the East China Sea peace initiative that was proposed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) earlier this month, Yang called on Japan to exercise restraint and use peaceful means to address the territorial dispute.
Ma’s peace initiative includes calling on all parties to refrain from taking hostile action, to shelve their differences, to not abandon dialogue, to observe international law and to resolve the dispute via peaceful means.
All sides should also seek consensus on a code of conduct for the East China Sea and establish a mechanism for cooperation on exploring and developing resources in the region, according to Ma’s plan.