E. Taiwan county councilor opposes Japanese name change for Diaoyutai Islands

Councilor Tsai Wen-i plans July fundraising event to safeguard Taiwanese sovereignty over Diaoyutai Islands

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Diaoyutai Islands (Wikimedia Commons - Al Jazeera photo)

Diaoyutai Islands (Wikimedia Commons - Al Jazeera photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Yilan County Councilor Tsai Wen-i (蔡文益) said on Saturday (June 14) that if Japan insists on changing the name of the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚臺島), immediate action will be taken on July 7 to defend Taiwan's sovereignty over the archipelago.

The city of Ishigaki in Okinawa Prefecture announced last Tuesday (June 9) that there will be a June 22 vote to change the archipelago's name from Tonoshiro to "Tonoshiro Senkaku" (登野城尖閣), which is expected to pass. The proposed name change by Japan has aroused public attention in Taiwan, as the Diaoyutai Islands fall under the jurisdiction of Toucheng Township in Yilan County, per CNA.

Tsai, who is from Toucheng, formally proposed a motion in the county council on Thursday (June 11), suggesting that the local government should rename the islands as "Toucheng Diaoyutai" (頭城釣魚台) to defend their jurisdiction. This provisional motion was approved by all 34 members of the council.

After the final motion is passed, the county government will be asked to adopt it.

On Sunday Tsai pointed out that You Si-kun (游錫堃), legislative speaker and former mayor of Yilan County, believed that the Diaoyutai issue should be put aside and the two countries should jointly develop the islands.

Tsai said he respects the views of the former county mayor, but if Japan wants to forcibly change the name, Taiwan will have lost the five islets that make up the Diaoyutai Islands. In this regard, Taiwan must not be silent and take no action, he remarked.

If Ishigaki City really decides to authorize the renaming motion on June 22, Tsai said, he will launch a fundraising event on July 7th, titled "10,000 yuan per person, ten million years of name retention." Furthermore, Tsai will call on President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Yilan County Mayor Lin Tzu-miao (林姿妙), fishermen, and political parties to mobilize and defend Taiwan's sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands.

Defending Taiwan's territory is not a partisan or ethnic issue, but the responsibility of everyone, Tsai stated.

He specifically chose the date July 7 in reference to the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident in which Japan used the disappearance of a Japanese soldier as a reason to initiate the conflict that snowballed into the Second Sino-Japanese War. If Taiwan loses the five islets of the Diaoyutai Island in one fell swoop, Tsai stated he will take action on the 83rd anniversary of this historic incident.

However, Tsai added that if Ishigaki City does not hold the vote, or does not follow through with the name change, he will not take any action.

Japan, Taiwan, and China all claim sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands, an area containing rich fishing grounds and potential reserves of oil and gas.