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Taiwan, Japan to hold talks on maritime cooperation in late July

ROC Central News Agency

2016/06/30 14:54:48

Taipei, June 30 (CNA) Taiwan and Japan are scheduled to hold their first dialogue on maritime cooperation in Taipei in late July to discuss issues such as fishery cooperation and response to maritime emergencies, a foreign affairs official said Thursday.

Both sides have decided upon the date for the first meeting under a newly established Taiwan-Japan dialogue on maritime cooperation, said Tsai Ming-yaw (蔡明耀), secretary-general of the Association of East Asian Relations, which is in charge of ties with Japan in the absence of formal diplomatic relations, at a regular news briefing.

However, he declined to reveal the precise date, saying that it, along with the venue, will be announced once the details are finalized.

Asked about the agenda of the meeting, he said the issues to be discussed will focus on fishery cooperation, maritime environmental protection, response to maritime emergencies and cooperation in maritime scientific research.

But the two sides can still put other issues on the table, he added.

As expected, the meeting will touch on several issues stemming from a recent dispute between Taiwan and Japan over fishing rights in waters near the Japan-controlled Okinotori atoll, which lies about 1,600 kilometers east of Taiwan, according to Tsai.

After holding a preparatory meeting June 21, the two sides decided to hold the first meeting of the new bilateral dialogue in Taipei in July.

Tsai said that meetings under the dialogue will be held once every year in principle.

Taiwan and Japan decided to establish the dialogue after the most recent fishing dispute erupted when a Taiwanese fishing boat was detained by Japan April 25 on the high seas near Okinotori.

The administration of then-President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) lodged a strong protest with Japan after the Japanese authorities refused to release the boat until the owner had paid a security deposit of 6 million Japanese yen (US$54,000).

Japan defines the atoll as an island, which means it is therefore entitled to a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. Taiwan, however, maintains that it is not an island because it cannot sustain human habitation.

Tsai said May 31 that the goal of the upcoming maritime negotiations is to allow Taiwanese fishermen to fish in waters near the atoll.

(By Tang Pei-chun and Elaine Hou)

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