Thu, Aug 24, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Reports say Japan upset over military drills

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA, TAIPEI

Japan is upset about the proximity of Taiwanese naval drills to Japanese territory, media reports said yesterday.

According to the reports, Taiwan's navy announced on the Internet that it would conduct training exercises in airspace and waters east of Ilan County -- near Japan's Yonaguni Island -- earlier this month.

Yonaguni, which is part of Okinawa Prefecture, is a mere 125km off the east coast of Taiwan.

Both broadcast and print media reports said that the Japanese Foreign Ministry had asked Taiwan through the Japanese Interchange Association (JIA) to change the location of the military exercises.

The JIA is Tokyo's representative office in Taipei.

Some reports quoted unnamed Japanese Foreign Ministry officials as saying that Taiwan should have informed Japan in advance of its military training plans near Yonaguni Island.

According to a report in the Chinese-language China Times yesterday, Okinawa Prefecture Governor Keiichi lnamine was not happy that Taiwan's navy had carried out military drills in the vicinity of Okinawa. He said he wanted to prevent accidents like one last week in which a Russian patrol killed a Japanese fisherman and captured three others, saying their fishing boat had crossed into Russian waters.

Taiwan's representative to Okinawa, Chen Jyh-hong (陳桎宏), was quoted in the same story as saying that his office so far had not received any related comments from the Okinawan authorities.

However, he added, it would be "inappropriate" for the governor to make a connection between the Russian shooting incident and Taiwanese naval drills.

Taiwan, by carrying out a drill in a designated area, did not violate international regulations, he said.

Meanwhile the nation's top military propagandist, Vice Admiral Sun Yi-cheng (孫宜成), director of the political warfare department at the Navy Command Headquarters, said the navy has never conducted training exercises in other countries' territorial waters.

He said that since the navy was unlikely to enter any foreign country's territorial waters, it need not serve prior notice to neighboring countries about its military training plans.

Moreover, the navy invariably releases its training schedules and the exact locations of the drills with sufficient explanations, graphics and illustrations, Sun said.

He said the Japanese might have misunderstood the data: "Questions raised by Japanese authorities might have arisen from [them] misreading our vector graphics."

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