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Taiwan patrol boats to protect fishermen near disputed Japanese atoll

ROC Central News Agency

2016/04/29 11:14:04

Taipei, April 29 (CNA) Taiwan will send two patrol ships to international waters near a Japanese-controlled atoll in the Western Pacific to protect Taiwanese fishermen operating in the area, Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration said Friday.

A coast guard vessel and a ship belonging to the Council of Agriculture will depart Sunday for waters near Okinotori atoll after a Taiwanese fishing boat operating some 150 nautical miles from the atoll was seized Monday by the Japanese coast guard.

The fishing boat, "Tung Sheng Chi No. 16" (東聖吉16號), was released Tuesday after a payment of 6 million Japanese yen (US$54,442) was made as a deposit, pending legal proceedings.

Japan claims a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone around the tiny atoll but Taiwan has argued that Okinotori is a reef and therefore not entitled to anything more than a 500-meter "security zone."

Taiwan has protested at the highest level the act by the Japanese coast guard, and the Taiwan government has been pressured at home to step up protection for the country's fishermen operating in waters near Okinotori atoll.

(By Liu Chien-pang and Jay Chen)

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