President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended the nation’s sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, in an interview with Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.
“It is important for all of us to put peace as [the] top priority and solve the dispute in a peaceful way, rather than asking a certain party to exercise self-restraint,” he said.
In the interview, Ma described the series of islets as “an integral part of Taiwan” and said the nation had no plans to work with China to resist Japan, as the government continued to promote economic and cultural exchanges with Japan.
“We want our friends in Japan to know that we take our relations with Japan seriously, and the bilateral relations have reached the best stage in 40 years,” he said, stressing the government’s efforts to seek closer ties and sign economic pacts with Japan.
Ma said the islands and surrounding sea area have been an important fishing ground for Taiwanese fishermen for 100 years, and called on Japan to reinstate fisheries negotiations with Taiwan.
“There’ll be a lot of protests if the issues cannot be solved. If we can start negotiations again and make progress on related issues, confrontations will be greatly reduced as a result,” he said.