Following moves made by Japan and China to name islets belonging to the controversial Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台列嶼), the government yesterday issued a statement reiterating Taiwan’s sovereignty over the region.
Historical fact and international law indicate that the Diaoyutai Islands belong to the Republic of China (ROC), Government Information Office Minister Philip Yang (楊永明) said in a statement, adding that the government did not recognize Japan’s naming of the islands or any claim to sovereignty, or actions taken concerning the islands by “any other party.”
China’s Xinhua news agency yesterday reported that the Chinese State Oceanic Administration has also released names for islands in the disputed chain, which it numbered at 70, the main one being Diaoyu Island (釣魚島).
When asked by the press why the Taiwanese government had not responded to China’s move in the same way as it had to Japan’s assertion of sovereignty, Yang said the phrase “any other party” included China.
Yesterday, Japan published the official names of 39 uninhabited islands, including ones near Hokkaido and four in the Diaoyutai Islands — or Senkaku in Japanese — in the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa.
Three years ago, Japan designated 99 islets as key points mapping out its exclusive economic zone.
Of the 39 islands, three islets adjacent to Huangwei Islet (黃尾嶼), as well as another close to Chiwei Islet (赤尾嶼) are claimed both by Taipei and Beijing as part of the Diaoyutai Islands.
Japan has been working to name the 39 islands since May last year, when it named 10 out of the 49 islands with no official names on maps. The other 50 had already been named.
In addition to the statement, Taiwan’s outgoing representative to Japan, John Feng (馮寄台), lodged a protest in Tokyo over the move, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson James Chang (章計平) said yesterday.
The protest filed by Feng with Japan’s Interchange Association Chairman Hatakenaka Atsushi was the fourth such complaint since the plan to name the islands was made public in November last year.
Feng reiterated the government’s position regarding the Diaoyutais and urged Japan to refrain from damaging relations between the two countries, Chang said.
“We called on the Japanese government to settle the disputes surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands in a peaceful and rational way so as not to cause misunderstandings,” he said.
He added that the ministry did not file a complaint with the Chinese government, because China-related affairs fall under the purview of the Mainland Affairs Council.
However, MAC spokesperson Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said a consensus had been reached at an inter-ministerial meeting held yesterday that the Minister of the Interior would deal with the matter.
Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) said any action taken by other claimants did not change the fact that Diaoyutai Island was the territory of the ROC and had no impact on the government’s determination to safeguard the country’s sovereignty.
The government had no plans to name the islands, the ministry said.
Additional reporting by AFP
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