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Japan, Taiwan should shelve sovereignty issue in fishery talks: FM

Japan, Taiwan should shelve sovereignty issue in fishery talks: FM

Foreign Minister Francisco H.L. Ou said Tuesday that Taiwan and Japan should set aside the sovereignty dispute over the Tiaoyutai Islands and work out a mechanism to jointly manage and develop the controversial territory, adding that the long-stalled fishery talks with Japan will resume next month.
"Given the fact that neither Taiwan nor Japan is likely to make any concession on the sovereignty (of the Tiaoyutai Islands) , we should try to see if the model of shelving sovereignty disputes with China can be applied to the fishery talks with Japan, " said Ou in an interview with the CNA.
"This is not entirely impossible, if we can think along the lines of setting up a committee for joint management and development of the disputed waters, while setting aside the sovereignty issue, "he added.
A Taiwanese recreation fishing boat sank after colliding with a Japanese patrol vessel June 10. The collision, which occurred near the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands, sparked renewed controversy over the sovereignty of the island group, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japanese.
As Taiwan, Japan and China all claim rights to the Tiaoyutai Islands, this has complicated fishing disputes between Taiwan and Japan.
The two sides held a 15th round of fishery talks in July 2005 to try to resolve the disputes and both sides agreed to hold another round of dialogue in March 2006, but the talks never took place.
"If the fishery rights issue cannot be resolved, there's no telling if we have another incident like this whether it will interfere with our relations with Japan," Ou said.
He proposed that both Taiwan and Japan pay an "access fee" when fishing boats of either country enter the disputed waters -- a method used by Japan in dealing with its disputes with Russia over "four northern islands."
Now that both Taiwan and Japan have agreed to resume the fishery talks, Ou said, he hopes that the next round of negotiations will start in the next month.
He however admitted that Taiwan has not yet discussed its new proposal with Japan and does not know how Japan would respond.