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Taiwan, Japan to continue discussions on resuming fishery talks

2012/10/01 12:50:04

Taipei, Oct. 1 (CNA) Taiwan will continue to hold discussions with Japan on re-opening their bilateral fishery talks, although the recent developments in the Diaoyutai Islands issue have caused Taiwan to reassess the matter, Taiwan's top envoy to Japan said Monday,

Shen Ssu-tsun, Taiwan's representative to Japan, said the 17th round of Taiwan-Japan talks on fishing rights were set for early October but Taiwan now needs to rethink that timetable in light of Japan's nationalization of the disputed Diaoyutais in the East China Sea.

Nonetheless, Taiwan will continue to communicate with Japan on negotiating the timing and the issues covered in the bilateral talks on fishing rights, Shen said during a hearing at the Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.

He also denied a local media report on Monday that Taiwan has refused to reopen the fishing rights talks on grounds that Japan does not recognize any conflicting claims to the Diaoyutais and because of anti-Japanese sentiment in Taiwan.

"We hope to achieve concrete results if the talks are resumed," Shen said, adding that both sides are willing to go in that direction.

The goal of restarting the fishery talks is to ensure that Taiwanese fishermen retain the right to operate in the waters near the Diaoyutais without interference, Shen said in response to lawmakers' questions.

Reaffirming Taiwan's sovereignty over the Diaoyutais, Shen urged Japan to recognize that there is a territorial dispute over the island chain. All sides concerned should also shelve their differences, he added.

The uninhabited Diaoyutai Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China, lie about 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan. They have been under Japan's control since 1972, but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

Tensions over the Diaoyutais have escalated since Sept. 11, when Japan moved to nationalize the island group by buying three of the islets from a private owner, spurring anti-Japanese protests in many Chinese cities, as well as in Hong Kong and Taipei.

Shen returned to Taiwan Sept. 12 at the instruction of Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs after Japan purchased the islands.

On the question of when he would return to his post in Japan, Shen said the date has yet to be decided.

Opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Tsai Huang-liang said Shen should return to Japan as soon as possible to discuss matters such as the fishery talks, military intelligence exchange and projects to strengthen economic cooperation.

However, Legislator Lin Yu-fang of the ruling Kuomintang said there is no need for Shen to rush back to Japan.

As Japan faces rebukes from Taiwan and China after its nationalization of the Diaoyutais, Taiwan should use the opportunity to gain better bargaining chips, Lin added.

(By Elaine Hou)