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No date set for Taiwan-Japan fishery talks: officials

ROC Central News Agency

2012/10/02 20:12:12

Taipei, Oct. 2 (CNA) Taiwan and Japan are still discussing the issues that should be covered in the next round of bilateral talks on fishing rights and when they should be held, despite escalating tensions between the two sides over the Diaoyutai Islands, Taiwanese officials said Tuesday.

Both sides are holding discussions on re-opening the talks at an appropriate time and the matters that should be put on the agenda, said James Tien, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

"The issues have to be decided before a date can be set for the talks," Tien said.

Japan had proposed resuming the fishing rights talks with Taiwan in early October, in a positive response to the East China Sea Peace Initiative proposed by President Ma Ying-jeou to settle the Diaoyutais dispute, according to Su Qi-cheng, deputy director-general of the department.

But the plan was derailed by escalating tensions between Taiwan and Japan since a flotilla of 75 Taiwanese fishing boats, escorted by coast guard vessels, sailed close to the islets Sept. 25 to assert Taiwan's sovereignty over the archipelago and their right to fish there, Su said.

The action led to an altercation between Taiwanese and Japanese coast guard vessels that involved the use of water cannons.

The Taiwanese fishermen's trip to the Diaoyutais area was in response to an effort by Japan to nationalize the island group by buying three of the islets Sept. 11.

Taipei and Tokyo are now trying to renegotiate the agenda and the date for the 17th round of talks on fishing rights.

The goal of the talks will be to ensure that Taiwanese fishermen can operate in the waters near the Diaoyuatis without interference, Taiwanese officials have said.

The uninhabited Diaoyutai Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China, lie about 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan. They have been under Japan's control since 1972, but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

Immediately after Japan's recent purchase of the three islets, Taiwan recalled its representative to Japan Shen Ssu-tsun.

Asked about Shen's return to his post in Japan, Tien said a date has not yet been decided.

Shen will return to Japan at "an appropriate time," Tien said.

(By Elaine Hou)

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