Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) is to summon Japan’s representative to Taiwan today to protest against Tokyo’s seizure of a Taiwanese fishing boat in waters near the Okinotori atoll on Monday.
“It is the ministry’s duty to do everything in its power to negotiate with Japan and lodge a protest against the incident,” Association for East Asian Relations Secretary-General Peter Tsai (蔡明耀) told a morning news conference at the ministry in Taipei.
Tsai said Representative to Japan Shen Ssu-tsun (沈斯淳) was scheduled to meet with Interchange Association, Japan President Tadashi Imai at 4pm yesterday to hand over the government’s formal complaint about the seizure of the Tung Sheng Chi No. 16, while Lin would meet this morning with Japanese Representative to Taiwan Mikio Numata.
However, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida told a news conference in Tokyo that his government does not accept Taiwan’s stance that Okinotori is not an island.
It has lodged a protest through its representative office in Taipei — the Interchange Association, Japan, he said.
Okinotori is an island as established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and Japan has the right to an exclusive economic zone around the atoll, Kishida said.
Tsai also said that Japan had yesterday expressed its displeasure with President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) comments on Wednesday about Japan’s “illegal expansion of rights by unilaterally defining the uninhabited rock as an ‘island.’”
“The dispute over the atoll’s legal status has to be settled by the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf,” Tsai said.
Taiwanese fishermen should avoid fishing in disputed waters for the moment because negotiations with Japan might not see immediate results, he said, adding that the government would endeavor to safeguard the public’s interests, but it wants to prevent Taipei-Tokyo ties from being affected by the incident.
Ma yesterday reiterated that Taiwan would uphold the freedom of its fishermen operating on the high seas.
He said he had asked the Coast Guard Administration to send vessels to protect Taiwanese fishing boats, adding that “this is our fundamental right and we will not budge.”
Ma said the Okinotori atoll was originally less than 3 ping (9.9m2) in area, “but has been expanded to hundreds of square meters through artificial construction.”
Japan’s claims to have rights over a 200 nautical mile (370km) exclusive economic zone is “in violation of international law and the definition of an island under Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” he said.
Okinotori is a reef, a rock and not an island, and it “is small and cannot sustain human habitation” even though Japan describes it as an island, he said.
The Japan Coast Guard “seized our fishing ship [within the 200 nautical mile zone], which is a serious violation of freedom to fish on the high seas as stipulated in Article 87 of the convention,” Ma said.
“Fishing [on the high seas] is a very important right,” he said, adding that Japan can build artificial islands or facilities at sea, but no matter how much it builds, such artificial creations would not be Japanese territory.
The Tung Sheng Chi No. 16, its Taiwanese captain and nine Chinese and Indonesian crew members were released on Tuesday after the boat’s owner paid the ￥6 million (US$54,240) “security deposit” demanded by Japan.
BUSY DAY: The same day the USS ‘Barry’ passed through the Strait, Taiwan was ending its Han Kuang military exercises, while China said it conducted an exercise near Taiwan A US Navy ship on Friday sailed through the Taiwan Strait, marking the ninth time a US military vessel has transited the Strait since US President Joe Biden took office in January. The USS Barry, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, conducted a “routine” transit through the Strait, the US Navy said in a statement, adding that the journey through international waters was conducted “in accordance with international law.” “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the US Navy said. “The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.” The Ministry
FRUIT SPAT: The COA said China had not given evidence for halting wax and custard apple imports, adding that it would spend NT$1bn on promoting sales of the fruit Taipei threatened to take China to the WTO yesterday after Beijing said it would suspend wax apple and custard apple imports from Taiwan due to pest concerns. China’s customs administration earlier yesterday said it had repeatedly found pests called Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug, on wax and custard apples from Taiwan. It asked its Guangdong branch and all affiliated offices to stop clearing the products from today. China had acted unilaterally, without providing scientific evidence, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) told a news conference, criticizing the announcement’s timing, as it came during the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated in Taiwan
ON ALERT: A woman who tested positive for COVID-19 while abroad last year tested negative twice in Taiwan before showing a positive result on Sunday, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported two locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, four imported cases and no deaths. The CECC meanwhile warned nearly 500 people to monitor their health after a woman tested postive. The center also reported that a previous local case — a female worker at Taoyuan International Airport Services (桃園航勤), who had the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 — likely contracted the disease from the same source as a previous imported case from Turkey. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the two local cases were reported in Taipei, and are a
CLOSED DOORS? The new US rules, which are to be implemented in November, have sparked concern in Taiwan, given its low fully vaccinated coverage rate The US plans to allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who have not received shots. The measures announced on Monday by the White House mark the most sweeping change to US travel policies in months, and widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people — who would see restrictions relaxed — and unvaccinated people. The new rules would replace existing bans on foreigners’ travel to the US from certain regions, including Europe. While the move would open the