President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday applauded the signing of a fisheries agreement with Japan as a historic moment, and reiterated Taiwanese sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).
The agreement was inked on Wednesday in Taipei at the 17th round of negotiations since August 1996. It allows fishing vessels from Taiwan and Japan to operate in a large area within a designated zone without being subject to the jurisdiction of the other side, while a smaller area of the zone, where Japanese fishing vessels frequently operate, is under joint management of the two governments.
However, the agreement’s provisions do not apply to waters within 12 nautical miles (22.2km) — a state’s territorial waters — surrounding the Diaoyutais, because the islands are claimed by both Taiwan and Japan, which calls them the Senkaku Islands.
Ma dismissed concerns about the impact of the agreement on the nation’s sovereignty claims.
In a meeting with Interchange Association, Japan Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi at the Presidential Office, he said the agreement focused solely on fishery issues.
“The Diaoyutai Islands are part of the territory of the Republic of China, and during the negotiations the two nations agreed to put aside sovereignty disputes and focus on the fishing industry and fishing grounds,” he said.
“We’ve made it clear that the agreement will not affect each side’s stances regarding the Diaoyutai Islands,” he added.
Ohashi signed the agreement on behalf of Japan with Association of East Asian Relations Chairman Liao Liou-yi (廖了以) at the conclusion of the bilateral talks at the Taipei Guest House.
Ma said the waters surrounding the Diaoyutais are traditional fishing grounds for fishermen from New Taipei City (新北市), Keelung and Yilan County, and the agreement will protect their fishery rights.
The pact also pushed forward bilateral relations, he said, adding that he expects the two nations to continue to promote cooperation in various fields, such as the economy and tourism.
“Although Taiwan and Japan have no formal diplomatic ties, we expect this special partnership to continue moving forward,” the president said.