The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday said it expected more than one preparatory meeting would have to be held before Taiwan and Japan can come up with solutions to protect the rights of fishermen from both nations to operate in waters around the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).
At a routine press conference, Su Chii-cherng (蘇啟誠), deputy director-general of the ministry’s Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said Taipei and Tokyo had agreed to a date of a preparatory meeting, but declined to confirm it would be Friday, as has been reported.
Taiwan and Japan initiated fishery talks following incidents of Taiwanese fishing boats being seized, detained or expelled by the Japan Coast Guard after Japan, in 1996, ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and set up a 200 nautical mile (370km) exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Japan’s EEZ includes the waters around the Diaoyutais, which are claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan, and known in Japan as the Senkakus.
Taiwan and Japan have engaged in 16 rounds of talks, which have yielded few results.
The last round was held in February 2009.
Su said the ministry did not expect a consensus on demarcation of fishing grounds for Taiwanese could be reached in just one preparatory meeting and he did not rule out a second or third preparatory meeting being held before a 17th round of fishery talks takes place.
The ministry expected that Japan would raise the issue of overfishing of mackerel and eels, among others, in the region, and suggest measures on fish conservation, Su said.
The ministry has said previously that Japan had suggested the 17th round of talks be held early last month. However, Taipei withheld its agreement after the Japanese government purchased three of the four privately held islands on Sept. 11, which caused tensions to rise in the region.