Academics weigh in on Taiwan, Japan, Diaoyutais

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Sun, Oct 07, 2012 - Page 3

Japan’s foreign minister appealed for calm in dealing with “pending issues” in relations between Taiwan and Japan on Friday to prevent the worsening of bilateral ties, an academic said yesterday.

“Japan’s statement was made to head off the emergence of overt anti-Japanese sentiment in Taiwan and for the personal safety of Japanese nationals and tourists in Taiwan,” said Ho Szu-shen (何思慎), a Japanese professor at Fu Jen Catholic University.

He was referring to a statement made by Japan’s Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba through its de facto embassy that called for calm in dealing with “pending issues” and rational communication and urged that bilateral ties not be affected by “isolated problems.”

Although the statement did not mention the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) explicitly, the statement was clearly addressing mounting tensions between Taiwan and Japan over the islet chain, which both countries claim as their territory.

Meanwhile, Liou To-hai (劉德海), a professor of diplomacy at National Chengchi University, said Japan’s description of the dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands as “a pending issue” could be seen as a “concession in tone.”

Liou said the phrasing showed that Japan, which is in an advantageous position in the Diaoyutais dispute, indicated a more moderate approach toward Taiwan than toward China.

The approach can be seen as “conciliatory” and “as a strategy to prevent both sides of the Taiwan Strait from joining hands to deal with the Diaoyutais spat,” Liou said.

He suggested that Gemba is not likely to use the same phrase to describe Japan’s spat with China over the Diaoyutais, but said that if Gemba did call the spat a “pending issue,” it would represent a bid to find a way out of the problem.

In related developments, a group of Taiwanese Diaoyutais activists, joined by several academics and activists from South Korea, China and Japan, yesterday published a statement as they attended a roundtable forum in Taipei on the disputes over the Diaoyutais and over the contested islands known to Japan as Takeshima and to South Korea as Dokdo.

They said the disputes stemmed not only from competing claims of sovereignty, but also from strengthening military deployment of the US in the East China Sea on the pretext of the anxiety of neighboring countries toward the “so-called ‘rise’ of China.”

They called for the disputed islands be transformed into a “sphere of border interaction” and the East China Sea to be demilitarized, urging respective governments to soothe nationalist sentiment within its borders and check their militaristic tendencies when facing the disputes.

They voiced support for people in Okinawa and South Korea against US military bases and promoted the idea that each government signs a pact for regional peace and security to fully resolve the problem of US bases in East Asia.