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Foreign minister calls for peace amid Diaoyutais tension

2012/09/18 20:11:28

Taipei, Sept. 18 (CNA) Foreign Minister Timothy Yang called for peace Tuesday amid rising tension over the disputed Diaoyutai Islands in East China Sea.

Yang noted that long-running tension over the islands was rekindled in April when Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara first proposed buying three of the islands from private ownership.

On Aug. 5, President Ma Ying-jeou floated his East China Sea peace initiative in which he urged related parties to shelve their differences and solve the disputes peacefully in line with international law and the spirit of the United Nations Charter.

However, the spat flared anew between China and Japan when the Japanese government decided Sept. 11 to buy the islands in a bid to "nationalize" them.

Yang pointed out that Tuesday marked the 81st anniversary of the Mukden Incident, when Japan attacked Chinese troops in Shengyang, northeastern China, marking a step in Japan's conquest of Manchuria and onward to much of China in the 1930s until the end of World War II. The Republic of China declared war against Japan in 1937 and both sides paid a hefty price.

"We have no intention of inciting nationalist hatred by mentioning the Mukden Incident, but we want to drive home the horror of war and the preciousness of peace," Yang said.

He also said that both Taiwan and Japan know that they should start fishery talks soon.

Taiwan is currently working on the agenda of its side of the talks to ensure that the rights of Taiwan's fishermen are protected.

He noted that the waters around the Diaoyutais are traditionally the fishing grounds of Taiwanese fishermen and that the government wants to protect the rights of the fishermen to operate there.

The two sides have conducted 16 rounds of talks over fishing rights in the contested waters without success, as Taiwanese fishing boats are often harassed by Japanese coast guard vessels near the disputed islands.

The Diaoyutai Islands, located around 100 nautical miles off northeastern Taiwan, are currently under the control of Japan after the United States turned over their administration to Japan in 1972, but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

(By Emmanulle Tzeng and Lilian Wu)