Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

MOFA calls on Japan to exert restraint over Diaoyutai

MOFA calls on Japan to exert restraint over Diaoyutai

staff writer WITH ASSOCIATED PRESS

Taiwan ‘insists on the principles of Taiwanese sovereignty over the islands, putting conflicts aside, joint development, and peaceful mutual benefit:’ MOFA spokesman.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday called on Japan to exert restraint over the disputed Diaoyutai islands.

The call followed a decision by Japan to give official names to several of the uninhabited islands which have been a focus of disputes with Taiwan and China for decades.

MOFA spokesman James Chang repeated Taiwan’s claim of sovereignty over the islands, which are officially part of the town of Toucheng in Ilan County but in practice are controlled by Japan. During the 1990s, several expeditions by Taiwanese and Hong Kong groups to plant flags on the islands were stopped by Japanese coast guard vessels.

Taiwan “insists on the principles of Taiwanese sovereignty over the islands, putting conflicts aside, joint development, and peaceful mutual benefit,” Chang said. He said Japan should exert self-control and not damage Taiwan’s national sovereignty.

Japan’s Interchange Association, the body which represents Tokyo in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic relations, was aware of Taiwan’s protest and would pass it on to its government, Chang said.

“MOFA will continue to keep a close watch on further developments and take necessary steps to protect the Republic of China’s national respect and rights,” he said.

Chang added that Japan had noted Taiwan’s serious protest over the issue.

The Diaoyutai are known as Senkaku in Japan, and are situated 186 kilometers northeast of Keelung in rich fishing waters where oil and gas reserves are believed to be located.

It was reported on Monday that Japan has decided to name several uninhabited islands in a group that is also claimed by China and Taiwan by the end of March.

The islands all are within what Japan claims as its exclusive economic zone. But four of them are in the Senkaku, or Daioyu, island group in the East China Sea, which is also claimed by Taiwan and China and have been a flashpoint in diplomatic relations.

Soichi Yamagata, on official with the Cabinet office, said the names will be used for new maps. He said the islets are within Japan’s established exclusive economic zone and will not change any maritime boundaries.

He said the move was not intended to stir debate about ownership of the islands. Japan has long claimed the islands as its own.

The islands are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and are regularly occupied by nationalists from both sides.

Ties between Japan and China have been strained for years over the island dispute, a contested gas field in the East China Sea and lingering animosity over Japan’s often brutal World War II-era occupation of China.

A 2010 collision between a Chinese fishing boat and the Japanese coast guard near the islands inflamed tensions between the countries, with Beijing suspending ministerial-level contacts.

China also postponed talks on the joint development of the undersea natural gas fields and halted Japan-bound exports of rare earth metals used in high-tech manufacturing. Several anti-Japanese demonstrations occurred across China.

The Chinese captain was arrested but later released and sent back to China after heavy pressure from Beijing.