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Calls by Japanese for rationality over islands row welcome: lawmakers

ROC Central News Agency

2012/09/29 22:51:45

Taipei, Sept. 29 (CNA) Lawmakers welcomed Saturday calls from the Japanese public for rationality over the Diaoyutai Islands dispute following reports of several prominent Japanese authors' criticizing Tokyo's handling of the dispute.

Rational voices are welcome, said ruling Kuomintang lawmaker Lin Yu-fang, who is a convener of the Legislature's foreign affairs and national defense committee.

Missions by the Taiwanese Coast Guard Administration to escort local fishermen in asserting their rights to fish in waters near the Diaoyutais have been effective, Lin said, referring to an incident earlier in the week that resulted in an exchange of water cannon fire with Japanese coast guard cutters just off the Diaoyutais.

Lin's remarks came after media reports of Japanese author Haruki Murakami urging calm and warning against nationalist rhetoric arising from the territorial spat.

Local media also reported that day that a group of prominent Japanese, including Nobel laureate Oe Kenzaburo, urged Tokyo to stop its vicious cycle of territorial spats with neighboring countries and expressed support for President Ma Ying-jeou's initiative to promote peace in the East China Sea.

In a statement, the group urged Tokyo to recognize the dispute over the Diaoyutais and to support Ma's initiative, which it said is rational, feasible and worth promoting.

Fellow KMT lawmaker Lin Hung-chih, also a member of the committee, said the fact that Ma's peace initiative mentioned by ordinary Japanese citizens proves that what Ma seeks --shelving differences, pursuing reason and peace, jointly exploring resources -- is an acceptable means of solving the dispute.

The Diaoyutais, known as the Senkakus in Japan, are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan.

Tensions over the islands, which sit atop potentially large gas and oil reserves, flared up following Tokyo's decision Sept. 11 to nationalize the islets by buying three of them from private ownership.

The move sparked anti-Japan protests in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, while a flotilla of 75 Taiwanese fishing boats Sept. 25 set sail toward the Diaoyutais in a protest over sovereignty and fishing rights.

Meanwhile, opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Chen Ting-fei urged Japan to extend goodwill as soon as possible to pave the way for bilateral fishing rights talks, citing concern that Taiwan could be marginalized in the issue.

Chen said she looks forward to a report by Taiwan's representative to Japan Shen Ssu-tsun to be presented Oct. 1 on the dispute and Taiwan-Japan ties, saying that she also wants to know when the two sides will resume talks.

Taiwan and Japan have conducted 16 rounds of talks on the fishing issue but have failed to reach agreement. In a Sept. 26 meeting in Taipei between Foreign Minister Timothy Yang and Japanese envoy Tadashi Imai, the two agreed to resume fishery talks.

(By Chen Shun-hsieh and Scully Hsiao)

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