Taiwan does not recognize any move by the Japanese government to nationalize the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) and has expressed concern over a visit to the area by Tokyo City Government personnel as part of the city’s efforts to buy the island chain, a Taiwanese official said yesterday.
“We do not recognize any move that will undermine our sovereignty,” said Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Steve Hsia (夏季昌) said after it was reported that Japan is finalizing plans to nationalize the disputed island chain later this month.
Taiwan’s representative office in Japan has also expressed “concern” over an inspection visit to a marine area near the islands by a group of staff members from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government yesterday morning, which was linked to the city’s bid to purchase the Diaoyutais, Hsia said.
He reaffirmed Taiwan’s claim over the island chain, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.
It was reported in the Japanese newspaper Nikkei Shimbun yesterday that the Japanese government is finalizing a plan to purchase three of the Senkaku islands from a private owner in the middle of this month for ￥2.05 billion (US$26.15 million).
“It is indisputable that we hold sovereignty over the Diaoyutais,” Hsia said in response.
He urged Japanese politicians to exercise restraint on the Diaoyutai issue.
Taiwan, Japan and China have been making competing claims to the Diaoyutai Islands for several years.
Located in the potentially resource-rich East China Sea, the island chain lies about 100 nautical miles (185km) off Taiwan’s northeastern tip.
Amid growing tensions in the region, Hsia reiterated that Taiwan will address the dispute with the relevant parties, on the basis of safeguarding sovereignty, shelving differences, pursuing peace and reciprocity, and jointly exploring resources in the area.
In a recent flare-up, a group of Hong Kong activists’ went ashore on the islands in the middle of last month and were detained by Japanese authorities. The activists were later released.
Following that incident, Japanese lawmakers led a group of activists on a visit to the Diaoyutais and some of them also went ashore.