The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday recalled Taiwan’s representative to Japan in response to Japan’s decision to nationalize some of the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).
Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) said at a press conference that the ministry filed a strong protest against Japan’s move and said the ministry has sent a telegram asking envoy Shen Ssu-tsun (沈斯淳) to return home.
The ministry wants him to return to Taiwan “in the shortest possible time” to explain the situation, and he could return home as soon as today, Yang said.
Earlier yesterday, Yang summoned Japan’s representative to Taiwan, Sumio Tarui, to protest the decision made by Japan’s government at a Cabinet meeting yesterday morning to buy three of the Diaoyutai islands from their private owner for ￥2.05 billion (US$26.18 million).
The Japanese government later signed a contract with the owners to cement the deal, according to Japanese media.
Yang said he told Tarui that Japan’s move had not only seriously infringed on Taiwan’s territorial sovereignty, hurt Taiwan-Japan relations and intensified regional tensions, but had also hurt the Taiwanese people’s feelings toward Japan.
He told the Japanese representative that Taiwan would “absolutely not accept and absolutely not recognize” Japan’s actions, and he urged the Japanese government to immediately withdraw its decision or be held responsible for the consequences.
Yang said he also reiterated the government’s stance that the Diaoyutais “are the inherent territory of the Republic of China,” which he said is a historical fact that cannot be changed.
Japan should first admit to the fact that there are territorial disputes surrounding the Diaoyutais to help resolve the issue, Yang said.
After meeting Yang, Tarui was mobbed by reporters as he walked out of the ministry, but he declined to answer questions.
The Diaoyutai Islands, called the Senkakus in Japan, lie about 120 nautical miles (220km) northeast of Taiwan. The island group is claimed by Taiwan, Japan and China.
China acknowledges that the islands fall under the jurisdiction of Taiwan, but stakes its claim to the Diaoyutais on its contention that Taiwan is part of its territory.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative cacus yesterday called for lawmakers across party lines to jointly make a visit to the Diaoyutais to assert the nation’s sovereignty over the island chain.
However, the Democratic Progressive Party caucus said that the KMT government, aside from stating that the Republic of China does not recognize the validity of the so-called purchase of the islands by the Japanese government from the private owner, should also make its stance clear and lodge a protest against China over the latter’s claiming of the Diaoyutais.
Additional reporting by Shih Shiao-kuang and Chen Ching-min