Yilan councilor plans new office to boost Taiwan's claim to Diaoyutais

06/23/2020 06:10 PM
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County Councilor Tsai Wen-yi (right). / CNA photo June 23, 2020
County Councilor Tsai Wen-yi (right). / CNA photo June 23, 2020

Taipei, June 23 (CNA) Following a move by a Japanese local government to change the name of an administrative area that covers the Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea, an Yilan County councilor said Tuesday that he was setting up an office to reinforce Taiwan's sovereignty claim to the disputed islands.

County Councilor Tsai Wen-yi (蔡文益) of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) said he and several other councilors planned to establish the office, which would also help to facilitate the follow-up fishery talks between Taiwan and Japan.

The Diaoyutais, known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands, are an uninhabited island chain in the East China Sea, surrounded by rich fishing grounds and claimed by China, Taiwan and Japan. The disputed island chain is located about 200 kilometers southwest of Okinawa and a similar distance from the northeast coast of Taiwan.

In Taiwan, the administration of the Diaoyutais falls under Yilan, as they are deemed part of the county's Toucheng Township.

In Japan, the islands are part of an administrative area known as Tonoshiro, which falls under Ishigaki City in Okinawa Prefecture.

On Monday, however, the Ishigaki City council voted to change the name of the administrative area to Tonoshiro Senkaku, with effect from Oct. 1, which drew protests from the Taiwan central government and the Yilan County government.

Yilan County Magistrate Lin Zi-miao (林姿妙) of the KMT said Monday that the Ishigaki City council's decision was regrettable and that her county government was also seeking to change the name of the island chain, to "Toucheng Diaoyutais," pending the central government's approval.

Adding his voice to the protests, Tsai said Tuesday that he would proceed with his plan to set up an office to strengthen Taiwan's claim to the Diaoyutais unless Ishigaki reverses its decision to change the name of the administrative area.

On the question of whether he would sail to the Diaoyutais on July 7 as he had earlier planned, Tsai said he was working toward that goal, while considering all possibilities.

Also commenting on the issue, Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said Tuesday that changing the name of the Diaoyutais is matter that falls under the jurisdiction of the county government and that he and his ministry will approve and respect Yilan's decision in that regard.

At a news conference on June 7, Lin had urged President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to visit the Diaoyutais to assert Taiwan's sovereignty over the islands.

(By Flor Wang, Huang Li-yun and Shen Ju-feng)


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