Taipei registered its concerns with Japan last week over recent moves by politicians in Tokyo to assert Japanese sovereignty over the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), known as the Senkakus in Japan, the Ministry of Foreign Affair said yesterday.
On Monday last week, half a dozen Japanese lawmakers conducted an unofficial “fishing” trip to waters off the islands and urged the Tokyo government to allow a team of experts to travel there to study development possibilities and environmental issues.
Several Japanese lawmakers have expressed support for an onsite study.
“We need to promote the development of the islands and the possibility of having people living there,” Liberal Democratic Party of Japan Legislator Taro Kimura said at a parliamentary meeting on Monday.
In Taipei, the ministry said in a statement that the government had reiterated to Japan that Taiwan has full sovereignty over the islands.
“The Diaoyutai Islands are the inherent territory of the nation. The Republic of China government strongly opposes any infringement of the nation’s sovereign territory in the form of words or deeds,” the statement said.
Taiwan called on Japan to “refrain from making the move to avoid any harmful impact on the benign relationship between Taiwan and Japan,” the statement said.
China, which also lays claim to the islets, also reacted to the latest move by Japan.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested the lawmakers’ visit, calling it an “illegal and ineffective” action.
“Chinese diplomats have already talked to Japanese officials and warned them not to carry on with farces like that,” ministry spokesman Liu Weimin (劉為民) said at a daily media briefing in Beijing.
In recent years, Chinese maritime surveillance and fishing vessels have navigated in waters claimed by Japan in the area, leading to occasional skirmishes and collisions. Although a small number of fishery groups have been vocal in asserting Taiwan’s claims over the islets, the administration in Taipei has adopted a low-profile attitude to the dispute.
Additional reporting by staff writer