Thu, Mar 02, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan-Japan commission meets in Tokyo

FISHING ON THE MENU:Japanese officials said that the meeting was being held ahead of the fishing season to determine if existing rules need to be adjusted

Staff writer, with CNA

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang, center, and other KMT lawmakers yesterday hold a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei to demand that the government include the issue of sovereignty over the Okinotori atoll in the ongoing fishery talks between Taiwan and Japan.

Photo: Courtesy of the KMT legislative caucus

The sixth meeting of a fishing commission established by Taiwan and Japan yesterday opened in Tokyo to discuss fishing in waters near the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) and other issues, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

During the three-day meeting, the two sides are to address unresolved issues related to fishing rules and guidelines in the waters around the disputed islands in the East China Sea that were covered by a bilateral agreement signed in 2013, the ministry said in a statement.

Association of East Asian Relations Secretary-General Peter Tsai (蔡明耀) is leading Taiwan’s delegation, which includes officials from other government agencies and fishermen, it said.

The Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association also issued a statement saying that the meeting is being held ahead of the fishing season so that the two sides can exchange views on whether the existing rules need to be adjusted.

The Taiwan-Japan fishing commission was established as part of an agreement signed in April 2013 by the two nations on fishing rights in the East China Sea near the islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan.

Under the terms of the agreement, Taiwanese and Japanese boats can operate freely in a 74,300km2 area around the uninhabited islets.

The Diaoyutais, which are about 100 nautical miles (185km) northeast of Taiwan, have been under Japan’s administrative control since 1972, but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

The Japan-controlled Okinotori atoll is another place where fishing disputes between Taiwan and Japan have occurred, and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) yesterday urged the government to bring up the Okinotori dispute at the meeting.

However, the ministry said the commission only deals with issues related to waters near the Diaoyutais.

The government has in the past vowed to hold talks with Japan to protect the fishing rights of Taiwanese fishermen near Okinotori, which is about 1,600km from Taiwan’s southern tip.

It has said that while Japan has sovereignty over Okinotori, the definition of Okinotori — whether it is an island or an atoll — is unclear.

Until the international community reaches a consensus on the issue, Japan should respect the freedom of Taiwan and other nations to fish in waters near Okinotori, the ministry has said.

Taiwan and Japan decided to establish a dialogue on maritime cooperation issues on May 23 last year in response to a dispute over a Taiwanese fishing boat being detained by Japan the previous month on the high seas near Okinotori.

The first meeting of the dialogue took place in Tokyo in October and the Okinotori issue was raised but the two sides failed to reach a consensus as Taiwan reiterated that Taiwanese fishermen have the right to operate in waters near Okinotori, while Japan repeated its stance that Okinotori is an island, which means it is entitled to a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

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