President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) initiative calling on claimants to the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) to set aside sovereignty disputes and jointly develop resources in the East China Sea was “received positively” by Japan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
According to the ministry, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba was asked by a reporter of the Hong Kong-based Phoenix Channel to comment on Ma’s initiative at a regularly scheduled press conference yesterday.
Gemba said he was aware to some extent of the initiative and considered it an option that countries cooperate in various ways to maintain peace and stability in the region, said a ministry official who asked to remain anonymous.
Gemba said there was some room for cooperation, though he had no idea how to formulate concrete plans, according to the official.
“We regard it as a positive response to the East China Sea Peace initiative because it sent a message of the possibility of cooperation” among countries claiming sovereignty over the disputed waters, the official said.
The official said Gemba told the press conference that Japan did not accept Taiwan’s claims that it has sovereignty over the Diaoyutais, which are known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.
Gemba’s reply on the sovereignty issue was “expected,” the official said.
Ma proposed the five-point statement on Sunday as he called on all concerned parties to refrain from taking any antagonistic actions, to shelve controversies and not abandon dialogue, to observe international law and resolve disputes through peaceful means, to seek consensus on a code of conduct in the East China Sea and to establish a mechanism for cooperation on exploring and developing resources in the East China Sea.
Taipei had communicated with Tokyo over the statement before Ma announced it at a ceremony held to mark the 60th Anniversary of the Coming into Force of the Treaty of Peace between the Republic of China and Japan at the end of World War II.
Japan has not yet responded to Taipei through diplomatic channels over the initiative, the official said, adding that the comments made by Gemba were the first indications of how Tokyo views the proposal.
Earlier yesterday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添), on a trip to Yilan County, said the East China Sea Peace Initiative would be an “all-win” proposal for the nation to enhance its relations with surrounding countries and for all concerned parties to enjoy peace and stability.
The ministry wished concerned parties could handle the issue from a pragmatic view and welcomed all positive responses to the initiative, Yang said.