Okinotori still high-risk area: Taiwan

Japan insists that disputed reef is an island

(By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Despite talks between Taiwan and Japan, the Okinotori area in the Pacific should still be considered a high-risk area for Taiwanese fishermen, the Taipei government said Tuesday.

Okinotori has been named as an island by Japan so it can impose an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for 200 nautical miles around it, but Taiwan, China and South Korea only consider it to be a coral atoll. Last April, the Japanese detained a Taiwanese fishing trawler and its captain for working in the area.

At the Taiwan-Japan talks which began Monday, both countries maintained their original positions on Okinotori, though more meetings would be scheduled, said the Association of East Asian Relations (AEAR), the agency which handles relations with Japan. The association therefore would still tell fishermen that Okinotori should still be listed as a high-risk area.

The main outcome of Monday’s talks was that the two countries would hold a full meeting to discuss bilateral issues on a regular basis once a year, said Chou Shyue-yow, deputy secretary-general at the AEAR.

Taiwan had mentioned Okinotori at Monday’s meeting, but it would be referred to a special working group for continued discussion, he said.

Chou emphasized that Taiwan’s basic stance was to value discussion over confrontation and to promote cooperation instead of disputes. He denied allegations that the government was being too soft in its dealings with Japan.

President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration named two prominent Democratic Progressive Party figures to deal with Japan, former Premier Frank Hsieh as representative in Tokyo and former National Security Council Secretary-General Chiou I-jen as head of the AEAR.