The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said that the first dialogue between Taipei and Tokyo on maritime cooperation, which was scheduled to be held by the end of this month, has been postponed to allow more time to prepare.
“Because of the large amount and wide variety of issues to be discussed at the first round of bilateral meetings of the Taiwan-Japan Maritime Affairs Cooperation Dialogue Mechanism, both sides have decided to put off the meeting to a later date for the sake of completeness,” the ministry said in a press release yesterday.
The ministry said it has already laid down the agenda and picked a venue, but requested a postponement after realizing it needed more time for preparatory discussions on the wide range of topics to be covered, including fisheries cooperation, marine environment protection, emergency relief at sea and marine scientific research.
In an effort to fulfill the purposes of deepening Taipei-Tokyo ties and improving the two nations’ cooperation on maritime affairs, both sides decided to delay the meeting, the ministry said.
“The new date for the meeting will be determined after negotiations,” the ministry added.
The dialogue mechanism was established in May after relations between the two nations were strained after the Japan Coast Guard on April 25 seized a Taiwanese fishing boat operating about 150 nautical miles (277.8km) east-southeast of the Okinotori Atoll.
The mechanism was created under the framework of the Taipei-based Association of East Asian Relations and its Japanese counterpart, the Interchange Association, Japan.
However, speculation that preparatory negotiations between Taipei and Tokyo had not gone smoothly emerged as the Taipei association showed apparent reluctance to release details about the meeting initially planned for tomorrow.
At a routine news briefing yesterday, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) dismissed concerns that the postponement of the meeting was prompted by the Okinotori fishing boat incident.
“It is only because we felt that it is a rare opportunity for such a meeting to be held and wanted to come more prepared,” Huang said.
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