Wed, Dec 20, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan, Japan hold maritime cooperation talks

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan-Japan Relations Association President Chiou I-jen, left, and Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi shake hands at the opening of a Taiwan-Japan maritime affairs cooperation dialogue at the Grand Hotel in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Representatives from Taiwan and Japan yesterday met in Taipei for the second time to discuss maritime cooperation, expressing confidence that robust ties would allow them to overcome even the most formidable challenge through dialogue.

The two-day closed-door meeting opened at the Grand Hotel, where Taiwan-Japan Relations Association President Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) and his Japanese counterpart, Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi, raised the curtain for the event with a hug, a handshake and a brief speech.

“Taiwan and Japan are of close proximity and face several maritime problems,” Chiou said, citing fishing disputes, rescue efforts at sea and maritime crime-fighting operations.

Chiou said the challenges serve as a test for both sides, but given the firm friendship between Taipei and Tokyo, and their shared strategic viewpoints, he believes the problems could be resolved step-by-step through dialogue.

Ohashi said he hoped that the two sides could boost cooperation on maritime affairs to spur Taiwan-Japan relations, which have entered a new phase with increased trade, culture and tourism exchanges.

Ohashi said that the 2013 inking of a Taipei-Tokyo bilateral fisheries agreement after years of uneasy negotiations shows that faced with a complex problem, both sides are able to look at the big picture and meet public expectations.

The agreement aims to end disputes over fishing in waters surrounding the contested Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), also known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.

Taiwan’s delegation is headed by association Secretary-General Chang Shu-ling (張淑玲) and includes officials from the Fisheries Agency, the Coast Guard Administration, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

However, the foreign ministry declined to reveal the Japanese delegation’s leader, citing their sensitive identity.

The first round of the meeting, held under the Taiwan-Japan Maritime Affairs Cooperation Dialogue Mechanism, took place in Tokyo in October last year. During the meeting, the two sides failed to reach a consensus on the Okinotori Atoll issue, but agreed to set up a task force on scientific ocean surveys and fishery cooperation.

The Okinotori issue is what prompted the establishment of the dialogue mechanism under the two associations in the first place, following the Japan Coast Guard’s seizure in April last year of a Taiwanese fishing boat operating about 150 nautical miles (277.8km) east-southeast of the atoll.

Japan classifies Okinotori as an island and claims a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone around it, but there is no international consensus on whether Okinotori is an island or a rock.

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