Tue, Sep 25, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Japanese envoy flying in to discuss islands dispute

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

The president of the Interchange Association, Japan, Tadashi Imai, will arrive in Taiwan today for a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) to discuss the dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).

The main purpose of Imai’s visit will be to explain the reasons behind Japan’s nationalization of three Diaoyutai islets, an official said yesterday.

Imai is scheduled to meet at 3pm with Yang, who will be leaving his post on Thursday to take up a new position as secretary-general of the Presidential Office.

Imai is scheduled to arrive at noon and return home later in the day. The chances of him meeting President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) are low due to time constraints, the official said.

The Japanese government bought three of the islets in the chain, known in Japan as the Senkakus, from their private owner on Sept. 11 in an attempt to reinforce its sovereignty claim, causing tensions in Tokyo’s relations with Taiwan and China.

The official said that Imai’s visit was part of Tokyo’s policy to explain its nationalization of the islets to both China and Taiwan. Shinsuka Sugiyama, director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, visited China to convey the explanation the same day Japan announced the nationalization policy, the ministry official said.

The Interchange Association, which serves as Japan’s de facto embassy in the absence of official diplomatic relations, announced the visit on its Web site yesterday and later posted a statement online saying that Japan wished to reopen talks with Taiwan on fishing rights in waters near the East China Sea region as soon as possible.

Imai will conduct an exchange of views on current Japan-Taiwan relations and the future of cooperation between Japan and Taiwan in an in-depth and candid manner, it said.

Taiwan has been an important partner of Japan and they have frequent people-to-people contact and close economic ties, the association said, adding that Japan hopes that its statement would receive positive a response from Taiwan.

In a news statement released by the foreign ministry yesterday, the ministry described Imai’s visit as “a right course of action” and reiterated the position of the Ma administration that all parties involved in the dispute should put aside differences and jointly seek peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

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