Representatives from Taiwan and Japan on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on tackling marine debris during a round of discussions in Tokyo on maritime affairs.
The MOU was signed by Taiwan-Japan Relations Association Chairman Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) and Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi.
Under the MOU, the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association would request cooperation from Taiwan’s Ocean Conservation Administration, the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association and agencies of the Japanese Ministry of Environment to push forward exchanges and cooperation on researching techniques for surveying and cleaning marine debris, with the aim of reducing synthetic waste in the ocean.
The two associations should be in constant communication over issues related to marine debris, and should exchange the latest information regarding surveying and cleaning techniques, the MOU said.
Japan and Taiwan have received acclaim for their work to address maritime affairs under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF), which they jointly founded with the US and Australia, Ohashi said in a speech.
The MOU seeks to build on the achievements of the GCTF to deepen the mutually beneficial partnership between Taiwan and Japan while tackling these matters, he added.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan donated masks and pulse oximeters to Japan, which later donated AstraZeneca vaccines to Taiwan, Su said.
This underscored the deep friendship between the two countries, Su said, adding he believes that with sincerity and mutual trust any unresolved issues can be settled in a mutually advantageous way.
Issues covered by this year’s discussions on maritime affairs included cooperation in marine ecology, maritime security, marine science and fishery, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The two sides also discussed the Okinotori atoll issue during the meeting, but have yet to arrive at a consensus, the ministry said.
The classification of the Japan-held Okinotori atoll, which Tokyo calls Okinotori Island, in 2016 prompted the establishment of the dialogue between the two associations, as it relates to the demarcation of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, which substantially overlaps that of Taiwan.
Japan’s Coast Guard in April 2016 seized a Taiwanese fishing boat operating 277.8km east-southeast of the atoll, which prompted the Coast Guard Administration and the Council of Agriculture to each dispatch a ship to escort fishing boats out of the contested waters.
Although the two sides did not reach a consensus on the atoll dispute during the latest round of discussions, they agreed to continue the dialogue for further cooperation on fishery matters, the ministry said.
They also agreed to hold another round of discussions on maritime affairs in Taipei next year, it said.
The dialogue was last held in Taipei in 2019, but was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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