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Taiwan probing report on U.S.-Japan joint exercise over Tiaoyutais

2010/10/03 18:37:49

Taipei, Oct. 3 (CNA) Taiwan's representative office in Tokyo haslaunched a probe into a report published Sunday by the Sankei Simbunnewspaper that the United States and Japan are slated to hold a jointmilitary exercise in November as a mock operation to retake theTiaoyutai Islands if China occupies them, Foreign Ministry spokesmanJames Chang said that day.

Chang said the Republic of China's sovereignty claim over theislands is unquestionable and that the government of Taiwan willclosely monitor the situation.

According to the report, the U.S. navy and Japanese maritimeforces are likely to hold the joint drill immediately after PresidentBarack Obama's visit to Japan next month for Asia-Pacific EconomicCooperation forum.

Chang reiterated Taiwan's sovereignty over the island chainlocated in the East China Sea, saying that the Tiaoyutais, known asthe Senkaku Islands in Japan, are an indivisible part of ROCterritory.

American Institute in Taiwan spokeswoman Sheila Paskman laterreiterated Washington's long-standing stance on the issue that theU.S. does not have a position on the question of the ultimatesovereignty of the islands.

"We expect the claimants to resolve this issue through peacefulmeans among themselves, " she said without making any direct commenton the report of the naval exercise.

However, she said the islands fall within the scope of Article 5of the 1960 U.S.-Japan Treaty on Mutual Cooperation and Securitybecause they have "been under the administrative control of thegovernment of Japan since 1972."

The islands are claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan. Thecontention between Japan and China was further inflamed when theJapanese Coast Guard detained a Chinese trawler captain Sept. 7following a collision between his vessel and a Japanese patrol boatin waters near the islands.

The captain was released only after China's Foreign Ministryissued a stern statement warning Japan that if he was not released,China would take "strong counter-measures for which Japan would haveto take all the consequences."

The islands, which lie north of Taiwan and south of Japan'sOkinawa prefecture, are surrounded by teeming fishing grounds and arebelieved to sit atop rich oil and gas deposits.

(By Jenny W. Hsu)