The People First Party (PFP) yesterday called for a coordinated move by the legislative and administrative branches to claim sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) as Japan announced it would nationalize the disputed islets, but the proposal received a mixed reaction, with lawmakers urging calm.
The PFP proposed that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) organize a meeting with the Ministry of National Defense, the Coast Guard Administration and other agencies to flesh out a coordinated plan to “demonstrate concrete actions to safeguard Taiwan’s sovereignty” over the Diaoyutais, PFP caucus whip Thomas Lee (李桐豪) told a press conference yesterday.
The proposal, which implied stronger action against Japan’s move to nationalize the islets, was not well-received by other political parties yesterday.
The protection of Taiwan’s fishing rights in the region is the most important issue, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said, adding that the PFP’s proposal should be discussed after the new session begins.
DPP headquarters has yet to express its views after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Friday called for trilateral dialogue between Taiwan, China and Japan to resolve the dispute.
However, former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) warned that Ma’s initiative to include China in the equation could risk confusing Taiwan’s and China’s sovereignty claims.
The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) sees the nationalization as the Japanese government’s attempt to prevent further measures by nationalists from escalating tensions, TSU party whip Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said.
Sovereignty is matter of international law, while ownership is a matter of civil laws, Hsu said, referring to Tokyo’s purchase of the islands, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.
Historically, the Diaoyutais were not among the islands the Qing Dynasty ceded to Japan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895, which stated that China ceded “the island of Formosa, together with all islands appertaining or belonging to the said island of Formosa,” Hsu said.
That explained why the -Diaoyutais were not seen as a “traditional territory” of Taiwan and that was what caused the controversy, he said, adding that Taiwan would be better off focusing on cooperating with Japan on mutual beneficial economic development and fishing rights.
Meanwhile, PFP Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said the dispute over sovereignty should be set aside to focus on shared fishing rights.
Lee, who returned from a visit to Japan on Sunday, quoted former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama in their meeting as saying that the Diaoyutai controversy “would have to be resolved by the next generation.”
Not all Japanese politicians share the views of nationalist Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, Lee said.
However, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said the PFP proposal would came too late to resolve the issue of Japan’s nationalization of the islands, adding that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should immediately summon the Japanese representative to Taiwan and file an official protest.
Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) said the Diaoyutais were the sovereign territory of the Republic of China (ROC) and that the ROC government “does not recognize the validity” of any sale of the islands.
No matter how one looks at the matter, from an historical or legal perspective, the islands belong to the ROC and are satellite islands of Taiwan, he said.