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Taiwan reasserts claim to Tiaoyutais amid report of Japan deal

2012/09/07 13:51:40

Taipei, Sept. 7 (CNA) Taiwan reaffirmed its claim to the Tiaoyutai Islands on Friday amid a Japanese media report that Japan will formally nationalize the disputed island chain in the East China Sea on Sept. 11.

"The Tiaoyutais are our inherent territories and our sovereignty over the island cluster is undisputable," said Calvin Ho, deputy director-general of the Public Diplomacy Coordination Council under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported Friday that Japan’s government is scheduled to hold a Cabinet meeting Sept. 10 to endorse the proposal to nationalize the Tiaoyutais, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, starting the following day.

The report said the Japanese government will nationalize the Tiaoyutais right after signing a deal to buy three of the five major islets in the chain from their private owner on Sept. 11.

The Japanese government reportedly will earmark 2.05 billion yen (US$26 million) from a reserve fund in its 2012 budget to finance the controversial acquisition, the report said.

Japan has cast the deal as an effort to reduce tensions over the disputed island chain, the report said.

The Tiaoyutais have been under Japanese control since 1972, but they are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

While the dispute has been simmering for decades, emotions flared up after Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara proposed in April that his city government buy the islands in order to better safeguard Japan's claim to the Tiaoyutais.

According to the report, Japanese officials have argued that if the central government takes control of the islands, it would not build any structures but instead would strengthen patrols and other measures to prevent activists from visiting them.

Commenting on the report, Ho said whatever arguments or measures are taken unilaterally by the Japanese government, it would not change the historical fact that the Tiaoyutais belong to the Republic of China, as Taiwan is formally known.

"The ROC's sovereignty over the Tiaoyutais is undisputable, whether from a geographical, geological, historical or international legal viewpoint," Ho stressed.

He renewed the Taiwan government's call for all claimants to exercise self-restraint and respond positively to President Ma Ying-jeou's "East China Sea Peace Initiative" that advocates shelving differences, pursuing peace and reciprocity and working together to explore resources in the region.

(By Emmanuelle Tzeng and Sofia Wu)
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