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Taiwan gives priority to sovereignty claim over talks with Japan: paper

ROC Central News Agency

2012/11/07 23:16:09

Tokyo, Nov. 7 (CNA) A major Japanese newspaper said Wednesday that Taiwan has given priority to its sovereignty claim in a territorial dispute rather than seek a fishery agreement with Japan or cooperation with China.

This is because Taiwan is fearful of being sidelined in the dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea, the Asahi Shimbun said in the report datelined Taipei.

The paper said President Ma Ying-jeou, Foreign Affairs Minister David Lin and other officials have insisted that in fishery talks with Japan, Taiwan should maintain its stance that the island chain is part of its territory.

“Such a position runs counter to Japan's stance that the islands have long been Japanese territory and no dispute exists,” the report said.

It noted that the Ma administration protested after Japanese government announced a plan to purchase three islets and nationalize the island group in the summer.

Japan later proposed the resumption of fishery talks, and the Ma administration initially seemed willing to restart the discussions, the paper reported.

Taiwanese officials became concerned, however, that if a fishery agreement was reached, they would lose the opportunity to protest the Diaoyutai issue, and the territorial dispute would end up being an issue between only Japan and China, it said.

"Discussion arose within the government over whether fishing rights should be obtained at the expense of territorial claims on the islands," it quoted a Taiwanese government source as saying.

Ma has also made clear that the territorial issue is important to him, saying in a TV interview that "there will be no fishing rights without sovereignty over the islands," according to the paper.

The report said China has called on Taiwan to join forces with it against Japan on the Diaoyutai Islands, while Japan had tried to use the fishery issue to separate Taiwan from China, a strategy that appears to have failed.

For the time being, Taiwan is expected to avoid allying itself too closely with either China or Japan on the territorial issue, the paper said.

There is currently no agreement between Japan and Taiwan over fishing operations in waters near the Diaoyutais, called Senkakus in Japan, although the two sides have held discussions on the issue 16 times since 1996.

The overlap in territorial waters claimed by Japan and Taiwan has also led to frequent cases of Japan Coast Guard ships detaining Taiwanese fishing boats operating in the area.

(By Tsao Heng and Lilian Wu)

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