Fisheries talks with Japan not delayed by islands: MOFA

Staff writer, with CNA

Thu, Nov 08, 2012 - Page 3

Taiwan and Japan continue to hold consultations on the schedule and agenda of a new round of bilateral fisheries talks in the hope that a preliminary session can be held by the end of the month, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said yesterday.

Lin denied reports that preparations for the 17th round of Taiwan-Japan fisheries talks have hit a snag because of Taiwan’s insistence on its sovereignty claim to the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.

“This is absolutely untrue,” Lin said in a telephone interview, adding that the two sides are still discussing what will be on agenda for the talks and the date for a preliminary session.

The Asahi Shimbun reported yesterday that the sovereignty dispute has hindered the initiationg of the talks.

The Japanese paper said Taiwan demanded that the sovereignty dispute be recognized in an official document to be issued at the end of the proposed talks.

The Asahi Shimbun said that the Japanese government is not expected to agree to the demand.

Lin denied that Taiwan made such a proposal, reiterating that the two nations were discussing what issues to introduce at the talks.

“We have presented some suggestions and Japan has offered responses,” Lin said, adding that negotiations are still ongoing and have not broken down.

Located about 100 nautical miles (185km) northeast of Taiwan, the Diaoyutais are also claimed by China.

Taiwan and Japan have held 16 rounds of talks since 1996 on fishing rights in waters near the disputed island chain, but have failed to reach any agreement due to their conflicting territorial claims.

The long-simmering row came to a head in September after the Japanese government bought three of the islets from a private owner to reinforce its sovereignty claim.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has proposed a policy, called the East China Sea peace initiative, calling for the dispute to be shelved and for interested parties to jointly explore resources in around the Diaoyutais for their mutual benefit.