The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday reiterated Taiwan’s claim of sovereignty over the Diaoyutai island chain.
The MOFA statement came two days after Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said during a trip to the US that the island chain was included in a Japan-US security treaty.
The US concurred with Japan, saying that because the archipelago was part of the territories administered by the Japanese government, “the treaty does apply” to the Diaoyutais.
Known as Senkaku in Japanese, the archipelago in the East China Sea has been a bone of contention between China, Japan and Taiwan, who all assert territorial claim over the islands.
On Wednesday, Aso said the Diaoyutai islands were part of Japan’s territory and fell under the protection of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security signed by Japan and the US in 1960.
“The government will not waiver from the stance that the Diaotyutais are part of Republic of China [ROC] territory. The ROC has rightful claim over the [the island chain],” MOFA Deputy Minister Andrew Hsia (夏立言) said when asked by the press about the issue.
Taiwan’s response came one day after the Chinese Foreign Ministry lodged a vehement protest against Aso’s assertion.
Claims over the island chain have been a constant source of friction between Taiwan and Japan. Last June, a Taiwanese fishing boat was sunk by a Japanese coast guard patrol ship while operating within the disputed region.
The Japanese later apologized for the incident and agreed to pay compensation.
Meanwhile, Hsia said that the 16th round of fisheries talks between Japan and Taiwan currently being held in Taipei would not be affected by the controversy.
“We fully understand both sides hold different views on the Diaoyutai issue. But we also hope that both sides can shelve those differences for now and strive to resolve the fishing rights issue,” he said.
In a telephone interview with the Taipei Times, American Institute in Taiwan press officer Lawrence Walker said: “The US’ position on the issue is longstanding and has not changed.
“The US does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of these islands. We expect the claimants to resolve the issue through peaceful means among themselves,” he said.
Walker said that the islands have been under Japanese administrative control since the reversion of Okinawa in 1972. Therefore, Article 5 of the 1960 treaty, which states that it applies to the territories under the administration of Japan, “does apply” to the islands.
Meanwhile, MOFA last night said Japan and Taiwan agreed to resolve the dispute through peaceful means at the conclusion of the 16th round of fishery talks held in Taipei yesterday.
Both sides also agreed to set up a reporting mechanism to respond to emergency disputes and boost communication between the fishery industries in both countries.