More than 1,000 people in Toucheng Township (頭城), Yilan County, yesterday staged a street demonstration to assert Taiwan’s sovereignty over the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) and the right of the country’s fishermen to operate in their traditional fishing grounds.
The parade was organized by the Toucheng authorities to coincide with the Mid-Autumn Festival — traditionally a time for family reunions — to express hope that the issue can be resolved and that the islands can be “reunited with Taiwan,” an official said.
According to the government, the Diaoyutais fall under the administration of Toucheng Township.
During the parade, protesters wore T-shirts that bore slogans such as “The Diaoyutais belong to Toucheng” and “Defend the Diaoyutais” to voice their collective anger over a recent move to nationalize three of the islands by Japan, which calls them the Senkaku Islands.
Toucheng Mayor Chen Shiou-nuan (陳秀暖) said the parade was to show support and back up an earlier protest that saw 75 Taiwanese fishing boats from the county sail to waters near the Diaoyutais, a protest that received widespread coverage in the international media.
Japan’s purchase of three of the islets comprising the Diaoyutais from a private owner has seriously infringed on Taiwan’s sovereignty and the rights of local fishermen, she said.
In related news, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said Representative to Japan Shen Ssu-tsun (沈斯淳), who was recalled in protest over Japan’s purchase of three of the islands last month, is expected to return to Japan within a week.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Shen would probably return to his post in Japan before Friday, the day the representative office there is scheduled to host a celebration for National Day on Oct. 10.
Shen, who returned home on Sept. 12 at the instruction of the ministry in response to Japan’s purchase of the islands, is scheduled to present a report to the legislature in Taipei today on the dispute and on Taiwan-Japan ties in general.
However, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Steve Hsia (夏季昌) said the exact date of Shen’s return to Japan has not been decided and that it would be up to new Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) to make that decision.
Opinions from legislators following Shen’s report would also be taken into account when deciding on the precise date of his return, Hsia said.