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Activists protest in Taipei against Japan's Diaoyutais purchase

2012/09/12 18:30:39

Taipei, Sept. 12 (CNA) Over 70 activists gathered outside Japan's representative office in Taipei Wednesday and tore up Japanese rising sun flags in a protest against the country's move to buy three of the disputed Diaoyutai Islands from private ownership.

The activists, including members of the Taiwan Labor Party, said that Japan's move to purchase and nationalize the islands, part of a chain that that is also claimed by Taiwan and China, has undermined stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Demanding that Japan stop what they described as the "illegal occupation" of the uninhabited islands, the demonstrators chanted slogans and threw shreds of the torn-up Japanese flags at the Taipei office of the Interchange Association, Japan's de facto embassy in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Office personnel accepted a letter of protest from the demonstrators after the 30-minute rally and promised to forward it to their superior.

Yin Pi-hsiung, a member of the Chung Hwa Baodiao Alliance of Taiwan, which exists to uphold Taiwan's sovereignty over the Diaoyutais, said his group plans to organize a larger-scale march in Taipei Sept. 23 to protect Taiwan's territorial claim over the islands, which lie about 100 nautical miles northeast of the country.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard Administration said it will continue its regular missions to protect Taiwanese fishermen operating in waters near the islands and that it does not rule out the possibility of increasing the number of boats patrolling the area when Taiwanese activists head to the islands to make sovereignty claims.

The remarks by the administration came in response to media reports that local fishermen's associations have vowed to dispatch more than 100 vessels to the islands if the government plans any activities in the region to bolster Taiwan's claim.

Although the Diaoyutais fall within a "provisional enforcement line" tentatively agreed upon by Japan and Taiwan, Japanese patrol ships tend to harass or disperse Taiwanese fishing boats if they approach closer than 12 nautical miles from the islands.

The Suao Fishermen's Association said Wednesday that the operations of Taiwanese fishing vessels are not affected, as long as they stay at least 12 nautical miles from the archipelago.

However, fishermen are worried that the Japanese authorities will implement stricter patrols in the disputed waters that could affect their work.

In addition, Lin Yueh-ying, director of the association, rebutted the media reports, saying that so far, she has not heard of any plans by fishermen to sail to the disputed area for protest activities or territorial claims.

The Yilan county council recently passed a proposal by ruling Kuomintang councilor Lin Yueh-hsien to send a boat to the islands to illustrate Taiwan's claim. Council speaker Chen Tien-lin said the date of the action has not been decided and that due to the sensitivity of the issue, the schedule will not be made public.

(By Worthy Shen, Liu Chien-pang and Jamie Wang)