An Yilan County councilor on Tuesday said that he would open an office to reinforce Taiwan’s sovereignty claim to the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) after a Japanese local government changed the name of an administrative area that covers the disputed islands.
The Diaoyutais, known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands, are an uninhabited island chain in the East China Sea and claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan. They are about 200km northeast of Taiwan proper and a similar distance from Ishigaki City in Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture.
Under Taiwanese law, the county’s Toucheng Township (頭城) has administrative authority over the islands.
Yilan County Councilor Tsai Wen-yi (蔡文益) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said that he and several other councilors plan to establish the office unless the Ishigaki City government reverses course.
The office would also help facilitate fishery talks between Taiwan and Japan, Tsai said.
In Japan, the islands are part of an administrative area known as Tonoshiro.
The Ishigaki City Council on Monday voted to change the name of the administrative area to “Tonoshiro Senkaku,” effective from Oct. 1, which drew protests from the Taiwanese government and the Yilan County Government.
Yilan County Commissioner Lin Zi-miao (林姿妙), a KMT member, said that Ishigaki’s decision was regrettable and that the county government was seeking to change the name of the island chain to “Toucheng Diaoyutais,” pending the central government’s approval.
Asked whether he would sail to the Diaoyutais on July 7 as planned, Tsai on Tuesday said that he was working toward that goal, but added that he was considering all possibilities.
Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said that the issue of changing the islands’ name falls under the jurisdiction of the county government, adding that he and his ministry would approve and respect Yilan’s decision in that regard.
At a news conference on June 7, Lin urged President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to visit the Diaoyutais to assert Taiwan’s sovereignty over the islands.
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