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Japan to resume fishery talks with Taiwan by year-end: media

ROC Central News Agency

2012/10/07 15:41:42

Tokyo, Oct. 7 (CNA) Japan will resume long-stalled fishery talks with Taiwan by the end of the year to keep Taiwan from aligning with China in the territorial dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands, the Japanese-language Yomiuri Shimbun reported Sunday.

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou has pledged more than once that Taiwan would not join with China on the Diaoyutais issue, but some Japanese officials believe Japan should move to eliminate any possibility of such an alliance occurring, the Japanese daily said in a front-page story.

Japan is also eager to mend relations with Taiwan that have worsened over the territorial dispute, the newspaper reported, but it noted that the talks will only focus on fishing rights and not on sovereignty issues.

The right of Taiwanese fishermen to fish in waters around the Diaoyutais has been a source of friction between the two countries for decades.

Taiwanese fishermen see the waters as their traditional fishing grounds, but Japanese authorities have cracked down on Taiwanese fishing boats entering the disputed region since Taiwan claimed sovereignty over the islands in 1971, the report said.

The crackdown, which has angered Taiwan, continues to the present day because of the lack of a fishing rights accord between Japan and Taiwan, it said.

Tensions over the islands were exacerbated on Sept. 11, when Japan nationalized three of the archipelago's islets by buying them from their private owner, a move that sparked a strong response from Taiwan.

On Sept. 25, a Taiwanese flotilla of dozens of fishing vessels, escorted by Taiwanese Coast Guard vessels, entered what Japan sees as its territorial waters to stand up for Taiwan's sovereignty over the islands and the right of Taiwanese fishermen to fish there.

Japan and China signed a fishery accord in 2000, the report said, but fishery talks between Taiwan and Japan, which were initiated in 1996, have stalled several times without coming to a conclusion.

The talks this time will focus exclusively on fishing rights, the report said, but a spokesman for Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the ministry hopes to enter into an "overall negotiation" with Japan, including fishery resources management, in addition to discussing fishing rights.

(By Tsao Heng, Chen Pei-haung and Ann Chen)

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