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Central News Agency

2005-06-21 23:36:16

    Taipei, June 21 (CNA) Fishery protection mission is not the navy's main responsibility, but it would like to show its solidarity with local fishermen in their disputes with Japan over their right to fish in waters northeast of Taiwan, Minister of National Defense Lee Jye said Tuesday.

    After accompanying Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng and a dozen lawmakers on a fishery protection mission to the country's territorial waters northeast of Taiwan aboard a navy frigate, the minister said he did not think it is a good idea to assign navy warships exclusively to protect fishermen's rights and interests at sea.

    The armed force's primary job is to ensure the country's security and it will protect fishermen's rights only as a sidenote to this, Lee said.

    Lee said he agreed to take lawmakers aboard the frigate on a cruise of the country's northeastern territorial waters after a demand by Wang.

    He denied the cruise was no more than a political stunt staged at the request of lawmakers, claiming that the mission was to demonstrate the government's determination to protect the fishermen.

    He shrugged off a statement by Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara Tuesday that the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands are Japanese territory and should be protected at whatever cost, including war.

    The Tiaoyutai Islands, known as Senkaku Islands in Japan, lie 102 miles northeast of Taiwan and are claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan. Taiwan fishermen are often chased away from waters near the islands by Japanese patrol boats.

(By Maubo Chang)


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