Yilan County fishermen on Friday expressed their disapproval of a Japanese politician’s intention to include the word “Senkaku” in the official name of the disputed East China Sea islands known as the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in Taiwan and Senkakus in Japan.
According to the Japan Times, the mayor of the city of Ishigaki, which has administrative control over the Diaoyutais, wants to change their official name from “Tonoshiro, Ishigaki City” to “Tonoshiro Senkaku, Ishigaki City.”
Ishigaki Mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama plans to submit the proposal to the city assembly during its regular session this month, and it is likely to be approved, it said.
The move is seen as a bid to reinforce Japan’s sovereignty over the islands, which are also claimed by Taiwan and China.
Fishermen from Yilan’s Suao Township (蘇澳) were apparently upset by the news, with many heading to the local township office on Friday to bring up the issue.
The proposed strategic change of the name would seriously hurt the friendship between Suao Township and Ishigaki, Suao Fishermen’s Association head Chen Chun-shen (陳春生) said, adding that the two have a 22-year friendship that encompasses many official exchanges, especially fishing exchanges.
Taiwan and Japan had shelved the contentious issue over the past few years to focus on the sharing of fishing resources, but the move by Ishigaki could seriously jeopardize that, Chen said.
The Diaoyutais belong to the Republic of China, with Yilan’s Toucheng Township (頭城) holding administrative jurisdiction over them, Suao Mayor Chen Chin-lin (陳金麟) said, adding that any attempt by another nation to infringe upon Taiwan’s claims would not be tolerated.
The Suao Township Office plans to send an official letter to Ishigaki authorities expressing its concern and disapproval, Chen said, adding that he hopes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can voice the concerns of Suao residents to the Japanese government.
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