TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taiwanese fishing boat was hit by a Japanese patrol vessel in waters 12 nautical miles west of the disputed Diaoyutai Islands on Sunday (Sept. 27), after it was accused of illegally trespassing in the area.
According to UDN, the Taiwanese fishing boat, "Hsin Ling Po 236," collided with a Japanese Coast Guard vessel shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday, resulting in slight damage to its starboard side. However, no injuries were reported on either boat.
The Japanese coast guard said the collision took place when the fishing boat was moving alongside its patrol vessel after being ordered to leave the area. It added that the Taiwanese boat had entered Japan's territorial waters without permission.
Meanwhile, the Taiwanese boat's captain Chen Chi-Hsiung (陳吉雄) emphasized that his vessel did not enter the disputed waters as Japan had suggested. He said the crew's fishing gear was swept toward the Diaoyutai Islands by the strong current, and the Japanese unexpectedly made physical contact with their boat and continued to chase them afterward.
Chen also said the Japanese Coast Guard had attempted to board their boat but gave up after an hour-long negotiation. He urged the Taiwanese government to investigate the incident and stand up for fishermen in the country, reported Liberty Times.
During a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan on Monday (Sept. 28), Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) pointed out that the fishing boat had been safely escorted back to a port in Yilan County. He said the Taiwanese government has contacted Tokyo regarding the incident, and an investigation is underway to determine who bears responsibility, reported CNA.
Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) also said the government will not tolerate "any inappropriate behavior" against the country's fishing boats. He said the government will ask Japan to address the case and ensure maritime safety near the Diaoyutai Islands, reported ETtoday.
Surrounded by rich fishing grounds, the Diaoyutai Islands are located approximately 200 kilometers southwest of Okinawa and a similar distance northeast of Taiwan. They have been disputed by Japan and Taiwan since the 1970s, while Beijing bases its claim on the grounds that it views Taiwan as an offshore province.