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Presidential Office denies Okinotori issue might be dropped

ROC Central News Agency

2016/07/22 20:42:17

Taipei, July 22 (CNA) The Presidential Office on Friday denied a media report that claimed a dispute over fishing in waters near the Japan-controlled Okinotori atoll might be excluded from the agenda of an upcoming Taiwan-Japan meeting on maritime cooperation.

Protecting the fishing rights of Taiwanese fishermen is the government's responsibility, and the government is currently actively negotiating the issue with Japan, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said, dismissing the report as totally untrue.

Taiwan and Japan are scheduled to hold their first meeting on maritime cooperation July 28.

A report published Friday in the United Daily News, however, said the sensitive Okinotori issue might be dropped from the agenda because there might not be enough time available to address it, without elaborating.

Taipei and Tokyo decided to establish a dialogue on maritime cooperation in May soon after the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office, following a dispute after a Taiwanese fishing boat was detained by Japan on 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 Okinotori as an island, which means it is entitled to a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. The Ma administration argued it was not an island under international law because it could not sustain human habitation.

(By Sophia Yeh and Y.F. Low)

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