Taiwan and Japan are still negotiating the resumption of bilateral talks on fishing rights, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday in response to a Japanese report that the talks were set to take place as early as next month.
Taiwan hopes to hold a new round of fishery talks next month, but the two sides are still negotiating key details such as the location and agenda issues, deputy ministry spokesman Calvin Ho (何震寰) told a news conference.
“No decision has been made so far,” Ho said.
The Mainichi Shimbun reported on Monday that Japan and Taiwan were set to resume talks on fishing rights in waters around the Senkaku Islands as early as next month.
The islands, known as the Diaoyutais (釣魚台) in Taiwan, lie about 120 nautical miles (220km) northeast of Taipei. They were returned to Japan’s control in 1972, but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.
Tensions over the Diaoyutais flared up after Japan moved to nationalize and strengthen its sovereignty claim over the island chain by buying three of the islets from their private owner on Sept. 11, spurring protests in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.
Taiwanese fishermen consider the waters near the islands to be traditional fishing grounds, but are routinely chased away from the area by Japanese authorities when they venture too close to what Japan sees as its territorial waters.
Tokyo has decided to address the issue of fishing rights around the islands in a bid to prevent China and Taiwan from teaming up on the Diaoyutais sovereignty issue, the paper reported.
However, Taiwan has repeatedly said it will not cooperate with China on the Diaoyutais issue.
Asked to provide more details on the fishing talks, Ho declined to do so, saying the two sides are still in negotiations.
Taiwan and Japan last held talks on fishing rights in their overlapping territories in 2009. The talks have been stalled since then due to differences on how to resolve the cross-border fishery disputes.
The foreign ministry has said the goal of the next round of talks, which would be the 17th round since the talks began in 1996, is to ensure that Taiwanese fishermen will be able to operate in waters near the Diaoyutais free from interference from Japan Coast Guard patrol boats.